What a wonderful feast of largely Arab music Dartington Chamber Orchestra served up to a large audience, all part of the Open Arms week of events held in support of asylum-seekers and refugees in South Devon.
Opening with a polished performance of Purcell’s Chacony in G minor, the strings, under the highly-assured leadership of Marcus Broome and conducted by Oliver Butterworth, followed this with an idiomatic rendition of Rahim’s Little Suite, finely capturing the rhythmic subtleties of each movement. El Dabh’s Aria for Strings proved an especially poignant piece of writing, benefitting from warmth of the string tone.
Julia Munn despatched Okba’s Utopia for Solo Clarinet with panache, while Marcus Broome played with heartfelt expression in Helen Glatz’s Elegy. Merit Ariane Stephanos combined the inflexions of the Arab voice with more conventional Italianate embellishments in Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga.
If the first half had been highly entertaining, then what followed was a real revelation. Louai Alhenawi produced some exquisite sounds on the Nay, in Roustom’s Dabke, and Sidiq’s Dialog for Nay and conventional Flute, where he was joined by Jak Berry. Although in easy-listening comfort-mode, this was nevertheless a most alluring piece of writing, effectively orchestrated.
Merit joined the orchestra once more for four popular Arab songs, which emerged the undoubted highlight of a truly memorable afternoon, which we were privileged to have been a part of.
PHILIP R BUTTALL
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