The city has always been fortunate to have an amateur orchestra of the size and quality of Plymouth Symphony Orchestra on its doorstep.
Unlike many similar outfits around the country, though, the orchestra has a particularly strong and vibrant string section, indeed one of its richest assets, and which was very much in evidence in this programme of Orchestral Favourites. But on last night’s showing, woodwind and brass in particular did come a very close second, with only the occasional solo slip here and there, possibly due to the somewhat unfavourable on-stage temperature.
In planning her programme this time, conductor Anne Kimber did something really quite simple, but which proved eminently effective on the night. She chose to start with the symphony, and then end with a real orchestral tour de force that would involve virtually everyone at the end of the evening, thereby building perfectly towards a final climax – something which wouldn’t really have happened with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony coming last.
Under the assured and inspired leadership of Cath Smith, and Anne’s well-studied direction, the orchestra still gave a well-paced performance of the Beethoven, following this with a really impressive rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture, arguably the evening’s highlight. The well-known Adagio from Spartacus ticked most of the boxes, leaving Sibelius’s epic tone-poem Finlandia to round off this most enjoyable concert in truly heroic fashion.
PHILIP R BUTTALL