Reviews of our recent concerts can be found below.

Saturday 19th November 2016 - Emmanuel Church, Loughborough

Charnwood Orchestra Concert Review

An enthusiastic audience at Emmanuel Church enjoyed an evening of Scandinavian music played by the Charnwood Orchestra under the baton of Nic Fallowfield. This orchestra produced a warm sound on a cold evening and began with the Norwegian Rhapsody No. 3 by Johan Svendsen, a contemporary of Edvard Grieg. The piece consists of three movements played without a break giving opportunities to all sections of the orchestra. The opening allegro in waltz time brought the excellent oboes, bassoons and flutes to the fore carrying the melody over the sweeping strings. As they moved into the andante, the French horns picked up the lead to be joined by the flutes and clarinets over a cello pizzicato, finishing with the full orchestra giving us a powerful display. The closing allegro was beautifully played with the second violins setting the pace, finishing with a strong performance by the lone timpani who let us know that he meant business.

The concert pianist Robert Markham then joined the orchestra to play the ever popular piano concerto in A minor by Grieg. The opening allegro was played at some pace with all the strings playing well and lovely warmth coming from the excellent cellos. Markham clearly enjoyed playing the Steinway and was note perfect, inspiring the entire ensemble to play with great passion and confidence. He played the adagio with an assured touch while the strings again created a mellow sound using their vibrato to great effect. Almost without a pause they moved into the final allegro, and you could tell that the whole orchestra were really enjoying themselves as the A minor key moved to major for a finish that was as good as you will hear from an amateur orchestra. The audience applauded loudly and the soloist looked relieved.

After the break we heard Symphony No. 5 by Jean Sibelius. This is not an easy piece to play but this orchestra had the confidence to take it on because they were so well led by their conductor. The brass and woodwind led us, perhaps a little quickly, into the opening movement and then the strings took over before the bassoons gave us a wonderfully haunting section. The movement closed with a strong performance by the brass and a tightly played finish. The second movement has a lot of pizzicato for all the strings and this was handled well, particularly in getting the balance right between the different sections of the orchestra. Once again the warmth of their sound came over well in this quite perfect venue. The final movement returns to E flat major key and needs a good conductor to manage the opposing rhythms. It also needs a huge brass sound usually found only in a big orchestra, but the Charnwood Orchestra made it their own and in splendid fashion. As the movement closed with its six enormous chords the timpani player made absolutely sure that we all knew he was there. Great playing and a really enjoyable evening for everyone !

John Lamb

Further reviews to follow