It takes a lot of organising to plan a lunchtime recital series with almost twenty weekly events – to say nothing of needing to be on hand each time, just in case something goes wrong.
St Andrew’s Lunchtime Summer Recitals provide a welcome opportunity for anyone in the city centre to pop in, and perhaps have something to eat, as time permits. For the mainly-local recitalists involved, it can offer an eminently less-formal performance platform.
It was refreshing that Plymouth Philharmonic Choir had chosen a lighter programme for their summer concert, as the sun streamed through the stained-glass windows into the hall.
There is undoubtedly a high level of expertise and humanism in Brahms’ German Requiem, but this has rarely been sufficient for it to achieve the same degree of popularity as those, for example, by Verdi, Mozart or Fauré.
With the title Noyses, Sounds & Sweet Aires, it wouldn’t be too difficult to guess this lovely afternoon concert was the choir’s own celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary.
This unique happening involved three consecutive events, linked by the theme of memories – those of loved ones now no longer here with us.
Plymouth Symphony Orchestra has featured music from the movies at previous concerts. But it’s never sounded like this before.
There had been but few changes of personnel among the ranks and, as ever, conductor Anne Kimber gave her absolute all throughout.
But while a conductor can infuse music with an individual interpretation, they still need someone to communicate this to the players in more practical terms.
In Cath Smith the orchestra has now got a superb leader who not only looks after technical issues, but brings such a sense of vigour, enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment to her role, and which immediately inspires the orchestra as a whole.
This was so evident not only in the strings’ gloriously-rich rendition of Born Free, or the precision and excitement in the jagged, percussive rhythms of Pirates of the Caribbean, but also in the way it encouraged such fine woodwind solo playing on the night, and gave real confidence to the horn section, who often can appear so very exposed in this kind of writing.
Through the auspices of Plymouth Music Accord there were many young people present, who could only have been truly motivated by what they were hearing – and hopefully might even come again.
As for the rest of the large audience, two separate standing ovations said it all – a quite outstanding performance from the city’s only symphony orchestra.
PHILIP R BUTTALL