Reviews

Saturday 24 June 2017

 

Ipswich Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Concert at the Corn Exchange was the second classical concert in the town centre within six hours; this afternoon hundreds of us enjoyed the Multi Storey Orchestra playing Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony at the Blackfriars Car Park (part of Aldeburgh Festival), followed 2-hours later by the ISO giving us an interesting programme of works by Dvorak, Mendelssohn and Stravinsky.

 

The most well-known piece was Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with a promising young soloist – Savitri Grier.  Her forename name comes from a three-thousand year old Indian epic tale called The Mahabharata, and the story of the girl - Savitri - was set to music by Holst as a chamber opera.  Having played the same concerto only a month ago at the Bury Festival, tonight was Ipswich’s turn to hear the rich expressive sound of this impressive young lady’s violin.  The wonderful broad tone she produced in the long phrases of the slow movement allied with the immaculate technical skill she displayed in the quick passages of the outer movements will enable Savitri to have an illustrious career as a soloist.

 

The concert began with Dvorak’s symphonic poem, The Water Goblin – a rarely heard work like the other four he wrote.  The story is perfectly characterised by the composer, and the orchestra played their part in bringing this fascinating tale to life. 

 

Stravinsky’s ballet, Petrushka, took up the rest of the programme and this piece, notable for its vividly colourful orchestration, brought the best out of the orchestra, including some brilliantly played solo passages by several of the woodwind and brass instrumentalists.  The conductor, Adam Gatehouse, deserves praise too, for the way he masterminded the performance of this, one of the great musical works of the twentieth century.

David Ruddock
East Anglian Daily Times

 

Saturday 26 November 2016


Two large scale works from the beginning and middle of the nineteenth century were the basis of this impressive concert by the Ipswich Symphony Orchestra under their long serving conductor Adam Gatehouse. The opening work, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture, was generally good, though with a few moments of tonal insecurity; it probably smoothed the path to the subsequent peaks.

 

The D minor piano concerto gave Brahms a good deal of difficulty before it emerged in its final form and to a cool initial reception. The extended orchestral opening, full of strife and anguish, requires full throttle and the players responded with total commitment. As the storm died away Steven Osborne ushered in the consoling melody and steered a coherent and compelling path through the thickets and cascades of Brahms’ piano writing. The rich, characteristic second subject gave particular pleasure on both appearances and the movement ended with sparking passage work punctuated by powerful orchestral figures. The slow movement was given a secure opening, well balanced and tuned and the soloist’s extended musings had crystalline clarity. The rugged finale with its unsettling syncopations was expertly directed by Adam Gatehouse and the flashing interjections from all corners of the orchestra made their mark. Once again Steven Osborn was scintillating; he is a pianist of the highest order and it was splendid to hear him in Ipswich.

 

Beethoven’s Eroica is a work that stands at a crossroad in the history of music; the scale and range of the symphony was extended as never before and the brisk tempo that Gatehouse set for the opening allegro seemed exactly right for the intensity of Beethoven’s ideas and imagination. The slow movement had weight and authority, particularly in the big fugal passage. There was sparkle and bounce in the bustling scherzo and the horns rode the challenge of the trio with aplomb. There was elegance and charm in the intricate finale and one of the greatest symphonies of all time was given a suitably rousing conclusion.

 

As is sometimes said in another context, this was a real team effort. Everybody gave 100%, nobody fluffed their lines and the manager got the tactics spot on. A pleasingly full Corn Exchange responded with an enthusiastic and deserved ovation.

Gareth Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

Saturday 28 November 2015

 

 

Shakespeare’s plays and characters have inspired many a composer from many a country; Verdi, through Berlioz and Gounod to Elgar and Britten spring immediately to mind. In this concert two of the most popular orchestral works in the Shakespeare canon were performed; both, as it happens, from Russia.

 

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet is the composer’s first masterpiece and the story of the ill-fated lovers already bore some resemblance to his own frequently tortured private life which ended in suicide. The opening chords shine an unforgiving spotlight on the woodwind, particularly if the work opens a concert. The results were good, if not quite perfect, but by the time of the wind passage before the final string entry, intonation and balance were impeccable. In between, the players captured the angry exchanges between the warring families and built up a fervent intensity in the celebrated love tune. Conductor Adam Gatehouse judged the various tempi and their interconnections astutely and the performance was underpinned and driven by the rhythmic precision of the percussion section.

 

Schumann’s evergreen piano concerto was played by Imogen Cooper, who has established herself as a sensitive and searching interpreter of the classical repertoire. Her opening flourish was confident and commanding but she quickly reduced her tone to achieve a good balance with the orchestra and the first movement had a satisfying coherence and concision. The second movement flowed elegantly and the exposed transition to the finale was smoothly negotiated. In the finale Schuman’s inspiration seems less assured, but the players and soloist maintained the momentum, bringing the work to a rousing conclusion and deserved ovation.

 

Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet has, in recent years, won many new listeners as a result of the use of The Dance of the Knights to introduce a television programme and some football matches. The threatening discords of the opening sent a chill through the hall and there was a plenty of accurate and characterful playing from all sections of the orchestra. It was an inspired and wholly successful idea to accompany the music with a selection of Shakespeare’s words to fix the music in context. Zimmy Ryan and Alex Gatehouse, two young professional actors, were clear, credible and captured the essence of the drama.

 

Once again, the conductor and players of this long established orchestra performed with skill and commitment; in the context of this concert they might be said to have distinguished themselves in combat. The orchestra has recently decided to change its name to the ‘Ipswich Symphony Orchestra’ which is a little crisper and more in tune with the times. Of course, ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ (who else and in this very play?) but we look forward to more fine concerts under the new name.

Gareth Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

Saturday 27 June 2015

 


For their summer concert the orchestra offered a programme which was, in some ways, a concert of two halves; the first half comprising some less familiar and lighter music followed by one of the cornerstones of the nineteenth century symphonic canon.

 

Rimsky-Korsakov wrote his Russian Easter Festival Overture in 1888 and it is a good example of the composer’s foremost skill, vivid and imaginative orchestration. All sections of the orchestra took their opportunities for a spell in the spotlight and there was much characterful and committed playing even if the music itself is something of a victory for style over substance.

 

Violinist Jennifer Pike was the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician when she won the competition as a 12 year old in 2002, since when she has forged a distinguished career, particularly as an advocate for new and hitherto little known music. Step forward Miklos Rozsa – who? I freely admit ignorance. Certainly better known as the composer of the film score for Ben-Hur than for his Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song, his early years of composition were financially unsuccessful but he later found fame and fortune in Hollywood. This work for violin and orchestra had some arresting passages and characteristically Hungarian sounds and Jennifer made a persuasive case for it. This was followed by the more familiar Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saens and the soloist perfectly captured the elegance and charm of the violin line. The orchestral accompaniment was sharp and alert under the crisp beat of conductor Adam Gatehouse.


Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony contains some of his most soul-baring music, particularly in the first movement which must count among the greatest things he ever wrote. It is technically demanding – F minor and 9/8 for a start – and a severe test for even the best of amateur orchestras (which includes this one). The opening brass fanfares set the standard and the wind and strings took up the challenge as the uneasy music at the start of the allegro unfolded. The transitions and contrasts between the climaxes and the dreamy, relaxed sections were well managed and the coda sealed the movement in a fury of sound. There was fine playing from the oboe at the start of the slow movement and characterful contributions from other wind elsewhere. The conductor held the third movement together well, while still allowing its heady spirit to shine through. The extrovert finale (more ballet than symphony, but still great fun) was driven with great spirit and energy to a rousing conclusion. Well done everyone.

 

Gareth Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

Ipswich Orchestral Society gave their Summer Concert at the Corn Exchange on Saturday evening as part of the annual Ip-Art Festival.

 

Their programme was dominated by Russian music - “sandwiched” by shorter French and Hungarian pieces in the middle.  The first two works are rarely heard in the concert hall, so all credit to the orchestra for selecting them.

 

Rimsky-Korsakov's “Russian Easter Festival Overture” opened the concert - this is an overture on a huge scale, lasting 17 minutes.  Just imagine the scene in a large Russian Orthodox church on Easter morning with the whole congregation celebrating the joy of this festival ; the music is vividly orchestrated by the composer, with all sections playing their part - well done to the leader, Richard Armitage, who played two violin solo passages. 

 

Jennifer Pike was the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician competition in 2002, so it was great to see her back in Ipswich for the third time since then.  Now aged 25, she used her prodigious talent to play the solo violin, with the orchestra, in two short works by Miklos Rozsa and Saint-Saëns.  Some of us will remember Rozsa as one of the best-known film music composers of the 1950s and '60s ; especially for epic films like “Ben-Hur” and “King of Kings”.  However, he did compose for the concert hall as well, and we were treated last evening to a rarity - the “Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song”.  Jennifer's illuminating tone was the highlight of this piece, and then her brilliant virtuosity was shown to full effect in Saint-Saëns' “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” - a work full of exciting Spanish rhythms and flamenco-style melodies.

 

After the interval the orchestra played Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony - this was given a stirring performance - full of stylistic playing from each section of the orchestra - especially the woodwind, featuring several solo instrumentalists.


Congratulations to Adam Gatehouse, their regular conductor, who guided the musicians with great aplomb !

David Ruddock

 

 

Saturday 28 June 2014

 

Revolutions tend to be associated with wars and the overthrow of governments but they also occur in the arts and Saturday’s concert by the Ipswich Orchestral Society featured not merely three outstanding composers, all of whom took music in new directions, but three particularly significant and forward-looking compositions from the first half of the nineteenth century.

 

The overture to Wagner’s opera ‘The Flying Dutchman’ is a concert-hall favourite, not least for the brilliant depiction of the raging sea and the memorable simplicity and power of the Dutchman’s motif. Against a strong wall of sound the brass blazed like an inferno and there was much skilful playing through to the final ethereal bars. The upper strings had an exposed and testing few bars but Wagner’s string writing is notoriously difficult and they emerged with credit.

 

Musical revolutions do not necessarily require sound and fury, as Beethoven’s G major piano concerto shows. Hitherto, such works had an orchestral introduction prior to the appearance of the soloist but in this concerto roles are reversed and Noriko Ogawa played the opening phrase with exemplary clarity, receiving a harmonically distant orchestral response as the movement began to unfold. Her playing was technically accomplished and the rising and falling piano lines were firmly controlled but still with space to breathe, although the piano was at times too loud which resulted in the loss of some of the nuances and shadings which are part of the fabric of this work. In the finale, the pianist astutely captured the contrasting march-like and lyrical moods and the orchestra and conductor were alert and subtly responsive throughout. It was a particular pleasure to welcome back to Ipswich Noriko Ogawa in the remarkable double of role of soloist and patron of the Orchestral Society.

 

If one single work were to be taken as exemplifying musical revolution it would be difficult to avoid choosing Berlioz’s eternally amazing Symphonie Fantastique. It was (and remains) totally original, with nothing like it before or since and it was this sense of excitement and discovery that was the outstanding feature of the performance. For this, conductor Adam Gatehouse deserves high praise and his understanding of, and passion for, the music clearly transferred to the orchestra. The originality and inspiration of the music coursed through the players and the glitter of the chandeliers in the ball scene – to take just one example of many – was palpable. This was a performance to cherish, and, should the composer have chanced to listen in, I think he would have recognised that the spirit of his creation had been captured - and given an approving nod.

 

Gareth Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

 

Saturday 30 November 2013

 

Although still only twenty one, Benjamin Grosvenor has an established reputation among British pianists and a large audience took the opportunity to hear him perform Saint-Saens’ second piano concerto with the Ipswich Orchestral Society at the Corn Exchange on Saturday.


The concerto is unusual in beginning with a brooding slow movement, with a variety of moods and styles of piano writing. It is not easy to weld the music into a convincing whole but there were many arresting passages and Grosvenor played with power and sensitivity. The second movement is the most familiar and the pianist immediately captured its beguiling charm with his dextrous finger- work. The orchestral players provided a graceful accompaniment and the finale was a dazzling tour-de-force from all performers and controlled with exemplary authority from the podium by the orchestra’s conductor since the start of this century, Adam Gatehouse.


The concerto was preceded by Beethoven’s powerful Egmont overture, written to accompany a performance of Goethe’s great tragedy. In the performance, the powerful chords of the opening bars certainly conveyed the feeling of political repression and the eventual appearance of the major key brought the work to a stirring finish.


The second half consisted of Brahms’ second symphony, a much more immediately congenial work than its turbulent predecessor, but nevertheless a large-scale and technically demanding piece. The players responded with energy and commitment, with a notable contribution from the principal horn, but the intricacies of Brahms’ writing occasionally took a degree of vitality and assurance out of the performance. Nevertheless there was real warmth and charm in the third movement and the brass were fully equal to the stirring final bars.


Adam Gatehouse conducted with his customary clarity and insight and the concert as a whole provided considerable pleasure and was warmly received.

 

Gareth Jones
InSuffolk

 

 

Saturday 30 November 2013

 

Under their current and two previous conductors the Ipswich Orchestral Society has built a deserved reputation for high standards of performance and the ability to attract soloists of stature and repute. The appearance of the well-established but still young Benjamin Grosvenor was doubtless a factor in drawing a large crowd to the Corn Exchange.

 

There are few better concert openers than Beethoven’s fine Egmont overture and there was some crisp playing in the central section and a suitably triumphant coda.

 

Saint-Saens’ second piano concerto is best known for its engaging second movement and it was good to have an opportunity to hear the piece in its entirety. The slow movement comes first and although it is alternately dramatic, lyrical and tempestuous, with some effective orchestral colour and striking piano passages, the overall effect is somewhat diffuse. Grosvenor played with the clarity and precision that we have come to associate with him and in the second movement he pointedly captured the gaiety and wit of the music and the orchestra provided a nimble accompaniment. The finale had energy and excitement with some exceptional dexterity from the pianist and the players sharply responsive to Adam Gatehouse’s clear direction.

 

Although Brahms wrote his second symphony in a genial and relaxed frame of mind, it is a big work in every sense and makes considerable demands on the ability and stamina of the players. Gatehouse conducted with his usual insight and authority and the players responded well. Despite occasional slips and infelicities, there was much creditable playing throughout the orchestra, particularly from the first horn. However, the difficulties of Brahms’ writing occasionally took a degree of vitality out of the performance and the symphony felt less seamless than usual. Nevertheless, the brass put their stamp on the rousing final bars to draw a warm and well merited reception.

 

Gareth Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

 

Saturday 29 June 2013


 

For their summer concert the Ipswich Orchestral Society turned to Russia and what better opener than the sparkling overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla by Mikhail Glinka, the composer who, in this opera, laid the foundations of the Russian national style. The players clearly relished exuberant orchestration and Tom Rumbold was right on the mark with his important timpani role.
 
After an unhappy debut (not unknown for works of exceptional quality or originality, and from every genre) Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto soon established itself as a favourite with performers and public. The solo part contains passages of exceptional technical demands and bravura along with moments of lyrical delicacy and Chloë Hanslip embraced all the musical riches with a performance of outstanding technique and artistry. Her tone, strong and sweet, was comfortably audible, even in the most strenuous passages, and she perfectly captured the reflective simplicity of the slow movement. The orchestra played their part too, the opening tutti clean and elegant and the shifting harmonies as the slow movement moved into the finale were accurately negotiated.

For me, the best concerts always have an element of education or surprise – something one has not heard or appreciated before. This may result from the performance itself or, as here, as a result of a few well-chosen words from the rostrum. In the Steppes of Central Asia is a short, ostensibly slight work and easy to overlook, but Adam Gatehouse set the work in a clear context and the performance gained considerably as a result.

After another thoughtful introduction, Gatehouse conducted the orchestra in Rachmaninov’s last major work, the Symphonic Dances. It is a serious challenge for any orchestra and conductor and players earned themselves immense credit with this performance. The sinister second movement waltz had real menace and there was plenty of tension as the violas began pushing the finale towards its denouement. The orchestra always plays well, but on this occasion every individual seemed to be having a good evening and it was perhaps significant that although there were some seductive wind solos (to take only one example) the conductor did not single out any player in particular but gave them all generous applause. Quite right, every player contributed splendidly and once again Adam Gatehouse demonstrated his excellence with the baton.
 

Gareth Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

Music From Russia


Concert programming is a fascinating art (science, alchemy?) and although concerts featuring music from one country are not uncommon, the idea does seem to work better for some countries than others.  A programme of English music can work, and yet an all-German (or Austrian) programme can appear rather unimaginative.  An all-French programme might seem one-sided and slightly unsatisfying.  Russia, however, is different.  Maybe it is something to do with its size but it certainly has enough composers of its own to make a thoroughly satisfying programme, as the Ipswich Orchestral Society amply demonstrated on Saturday evening.

You cannot have a more appropriate opening to an all-Russian concert than the overture to Glinka’s second opera, Ruslan and Ludmilla.  In this (and his first opera, A Life for the Czar) Mikhail Glinka laid the foundations of the Russian Nationalist School of composition, deservedly becoming known as the father of Russian music. The orchestra gave a rousing performance of this bright and vigorous piece, enhanced by crisp timpani playing.

Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto quickly established itself as a favourite after a difficult debut  (a not unknown situation in all branches of art) and we were fortunate to hear Chloë Hanslip give an outstanding performance in which technical brilliance and musical intelligence were combined to the highest degree.  With sensitive and polished accompaniment from the orchestra under the experienced baton of Adam Gatehouse, Hanslip delivered a wonderfully poised account of the elegiac slow movement and there were fireworks aplenty in the explosive finale with its driving Russian rhythms.


Borodin’s fame rests on relatively few works of which In the Steppes of Central Asia is an evocative description of the approach of a caravan-train in the middle of a great desert. In a brief but pertinent introduction the conductor added an extra layer of appreciation to a sympathetic and restrained performance.

The concluding piece, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances (his final orchestral opus), is a fine work, full of the composer’s trademark orchestration but with frequently shifting emotions.  The orchestra rose to the technical challenges with great aplomb and every section of the orchestra provided distinguished instrumental solos.  Adam Gatehouse set absolutely correct tempi and the dark second movement waltz was particularly beguiling. It was an exceptionally well chosen and performed concert and an almost full hall was rightly and warmly appreciative.

Gareth Jones
In Suffolk arts and events website

 

Saturday 24 November 2012

 

The Ipswich Orchestral Society has established a deserved reputation for combining enterprising programming with high standards of performance and both were on display at the Corn Exchange on Saturday. Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Nielsen and a national and international star soprano soloist – what more could one ask?

 

Even if Sibelius went on to greater things, his early En Saga remains a fascinating and remarkably original work. Many of the features associated with his music are already evident – rustling strings and piquant woodwind, for example – and the players overcame a few early moments of uncertainty to deliver a convincing and satisfying performance.

 

Dame Felicity Lott has been singing the operas and songs of Richard Strauss to universal acclaim for more than 30 years and, wonderful as the Four Last Songs are, it was good to hear something different – and what a treat it proved to be. The six songs included some of his best known (Morgen) and some of his most inventive – Three Holy Kings contains some extraordinary and ravishing music. From the very first notes the quality of the truly great artist was on display – that of instant and authoritative communication. Her voice was perfectly in keeping with the music, rich, resonant but also brightly incisive. Adam Gatehouse and the orchestra accompanied her with great sensitivity and the stirring woods of Waldselgeit were wonderfully portrayed. Felicity Lott’s charm and sincerity shone through and it was indeed a privilege to hear her.

 

Carl Nielsen has his supporters (myself included) and for good reasons, he is a fine symphonist and musical thinker as well as an under-rated writer, but performances of his symphonies still tend to be events rather than the norm. Why? As this admirable performance amply demonstrated there is no shortage of ideas, good tunes and – especially – excitement. There were excellent solos from the wind players, oboe and bassoon particularly, and the strings deserve credit for the way they hurled themselves at some of the most terrifying passages in the repertoire.

 

One of the challenges of this work is to avoid ‘going over the top’ and notwithstanding some exhilarating contributions from the timpani and brass the conductor brought this magnificent symphony to its conclusion in a blaze of controlled sound, triumphant but not triumphalist. A superb evening.

 

Gareth Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

 

 

Saturday 30 June 2012

 

Ip-art Festival offers much and forces difficult choices, but none of the huge crowd that heard international violinist Jennifer Pike play The Lark Ascending would have regretted their choice. A combination of wonderful playing on a beautiful instrument, and a very sensitive orchestra produced an outstanding and memorable performance. The purity and sweetness of the final ascent moved the audience deeply.

 

The orchestra, under conductor Adam Gatehouse, was excellent throughout. In the first half we were treated to USA mid-twentieth century music: the jazzy rhythms of Gershwin’s Cuban Overture followed by West Side Story by Bernstein. The huge orchestra displayed balance, energy and marvellous tones with some fine playing by individual players, and great percussion.

 

The concert ended with Elgar’s Enigma Variations. The orchestra again showed great concentration and intensity, making well-known and much-loved music fresh again.

Joy Bounds
Ipswich Star

 

Saturday 30 June 2012

 

This concert forms part of the Ipswich Arts Festival and commenced, appropriately enough, in festival mood.

 

The Cuban Overture by Georges Gershwin, with its rumba dance rhythms evokes all the elements and atmosphere of Carnival time. The orchestra, on good form, clearly enjoyed the ebullient spirit of the music which they performed with gusto.

 

Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, which followed, also embodies Latin American Dance rhythms and jazz as well as the contrasting romantic interludes. The loud passages were occasionally overwhelming maybe due to the volume or, more likely, because they were very heavily scored. The quiet sections were sensitively played and the Adagio Finale was exquisite.

 

Conductor Adam Gatehouse directed the orchestra with his usual assurance. His stage presence and interesting informative introductions are so relevant and interesting.

 

In complete contrast the remaining two items on the programme were totally English.

 

The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams, was played by guest violin soloist, Jennifer Pike. Her evocative performance enchanted the near- capacity audience; their tumultuous applause was rewarded with Jennifer playing – unaccompanied - the Preludio from Bach’s Partita in E major.

 

Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’, Opus 36 was, for me, the highlight of a splendid evening.

 

Judith Newman
East Anglian Daily Times

 

Saturday 26 November 2011

 

The question of how to fill a concert hall, especially in troubled financial times, is one that focuses the thoughts of musical administrators everywhere. For some years, Ipswich Orchestral Society has found the answer by combining a top drawer soloist in a popular concerto with an enterprising exploration of the symphonic repertoire. This formula again worked with cellist Natalie Clein playing the Dvorak Concerto, and a Tchaikovsky symphony to follow.

 

The orchestra immediately captured the stormy, solemn mood of the opening of Brahms’ Tragic Overture, going on to effectively contrast the lyrical sections with the dramatic, rhythmic moments.

 

Since winning the BBC Young Musician award in 1994 Natalie Clein has established herself as one of the best cellists of her generation and her performance of the concerto was full of passion, conviction and arresting insights. Her strong, imperious entry after the long orchestral introduction and dexterity in the fast passages were among the many things to admire. There were notable, well played horn and clarinet solos. Both soloist and orchestra executed with precision the contrasting calm, lyrical phrases of the slow movement with the urgent, intense outbursts before Clein steered the movement to a peaceful close. The finale, full of delicious musical asides and inventions, was alternately earthy, dreamy and happy, the varying moods and tempos skilfully coordinated by the capable and experienced conductor Adam Gatehouse.

 

It was good programming to give an airing to Tchaikovsky’s little heard first symphony, known as Winter Daydreams, rather than the later symphonies. It is certainly not short of melodic inspiration even if this is at the expense of symphonic unity. The orchestra’s playing and commitment was excellent, the first movement surged along, and the elegant third had an engaging, gentle lilt. The exuberant finale had great energy and brio, the final bars drawing a rousing ovation from the large, appreciative audience.

 

Jenny Jones
East Anglian Daily Times

 

Saturday 25 June 2011

 

Audience Loved Beautiful Music

 

Concerts usually open with energetic, celebratory music, but The Enchanted Lake by Liadov was quite, dream-like, and played with a beautiful soft texture.  The audience loved it.

 

Internationally acclaimed clarinettist, Emma Johnson, shimmered in silver as she treated us to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.

 

Performed as originally intended on a basset clarinet, there were some intriguing differences – especially in the second movement where Emma gave each not its fullest roundness, and the orchestra was completely with her.

 

With his usual passion, conductor Adam Gatehouse told us about Shostakovich’s precarious life in Stalinist Russia and the circumstances of his 5th Symphony.  The orchestra responded with a full-blooded, passionate performance that was almost frighteningly intense in placed.

 

A wonderful performance of deeply-felt music.  What a great orchestra we have here in Ipswich!

 

Joy Bounds
Star

 

 

Saturday 27 November 2010

 

Violin Playing at the Highest Level

 

In spite of the freeze-up the Grand Hall was nearly full, which may have been to do with the presence of one of our most popular young violin soloists, Nicola Benedetti.

 

She wowed the audience with her effortless virtuosity in the Violin Concerto by Beethoven - a work which lasts nearly three-quarters of an hour.

 

The 23-minute first movement showed her innate musicality, especially after one of the longest orchestral introductions of any concerto. Her serene tone in the slow movement was captivating, followed by the perky dance-like last movement. This was violin playing at the highest level.

 

The orchestra began the concert with a performance of two movements from the Karelia Suite by Sibelius. There were a few fluffed notes from the horns, who are very exposed in the first section of the Intermezzo. The well-known March was played with a verve and spirit which the brass exploited nobly.

After the interval we were treated to an impressive performance of Mahler’s First Symphony.

 

From the evocative sounds of nature in the first movement, through the mournful playing of the French round Frè re Jacques in the minor key, to the explosive fury of the last movement, the orchestra were utterly convincing under the guiding hand of their regular conductor, Adam Gatehouse.

 

David Ruddock 
East Anglian Daily Times

 

 

Sunday 7 March 2010

 

Orchestra's Family Show was a Cracker

 

Conductor Adam Gatehouse’s initial introductions set a friendly atmosphere between the orchestra and the audience, which contained so many children.  Then the opening fanfare.  Overture to William Tell by Rossini set a cracking pace. 


The tone mellowed with the next piece, Meditation from ‘Thais’ by Messenet.  The soloist was Paul Armitage on violin, a most remarkable talent at only 12-years-old.  He looked confident and happy to be in the spotlight.  The chords flowed like angel’s wings.  With his second piece, Czardas by Monti, the tempo accelerated to a velocity over which Paul had complete control.  For one so young, Paul showed great agility and deftness in his interpretation of this gypsy style Hungarian dance.


The orchestra played with aplomb for the next piece, that perennial favourite, Peter and the Wolf.  This musical picture story was expressively narrated by Alexander Gatehouse.  The Junior Choir from Sir Robert Hitcham School, Debenham was charming with its performance of the sublime For The Beauty Of The Earth by John Rutter.  The grand finale took the audience to a large cattle ranch in Argentina with Suite from the ballet, Estancia, by Alberto Ginastera.

 

This was a superb and enthusiastic performance by a fine orchestra led by Richard Armitage.


Evening Star

 

Saturday 28 November 2009

 

Winter Concert Delivers Performances to Remember

 

 

Ipswich Orchestral Society gave their Winter concert on Saturday evening at the Corn Exchange, and presented a programme of music from the Romantic Period (nineteenth century).

 

There was special interest in the soloist for this concert – Jennifer Pike – who made history seven years ago as the youngest-ever winner of the BBC Young Musician competition.  She brought out the character of the Violin Concerto by Sibelius most effectively, with an assured technique and a wide range of expression, and the brilliance of the virtuoso passages in the third movement was second to none.  This is one of the most demanding of all the violin concertos, and she made it a performance to remember.

 

Earlier in the first part of the concert the orchestra played the overture Les Francs-Juges (The Judges of the Secret Court) by Berlioz.  This was the composer’s first major orchestral work and was written two years before his Symphonie Fantastique – a dramatic symphony that used some of the music from the opera Les Francs-Juges which was never completed.

 

After the interval we were treated to a performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No 8 which, although not as well known as his New World Symphony (No 9) is just as fine a work and shows all the hallmarks of the composer’s symphonic style.

 

David Ruddock
Evening Star

 

 

Saturday 27 June 2009

 

I  Got Swept Up In Stirring Concert With Sea Theme

 

 

Ipswich Orchestral Society performed a programme of music using the sea as its theme.  However, the opening work was all about a river, which made sense as all rivers eventually reach a sea.  Smetana’s Vltava is probably the best-known piece of music describing a river – from its source as a stream in the mountains, then its evolution as a river, through all its phases as it widens and finally joins the River Danube.  The orchestra brought this river-tale to life with some really expressive playing, although there was a lack of precision in the strings near the end.

 

The soloist in Shostakovich’s second piano concerto was Sophie Cashell, who came to national attention two years ago when she won the BBC Classical Star television award.  Her sound technique and wide-ranging expression were evident throughout this concerto – she is certainly a future star solo pianist.

 

The sea theme dominated the second part of the concert with Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, the story of which is set on the Suffolk coast at Aldeburgh, where the composer lived.

 

The final work was Debussy’s La Mer, which is a portrayal of the sea in a variety of moods.  The orchestra deserves some congratulations for some inspired playing here, splendidly guided by their regular conductor, Adam Gatehouse.

 

David Ruddock
Evening Star

 

 

 

Sunday 15 March 2009

 

Family Extravaganza

 

Those children who insisted that their parents accompany them to the Ipswich Orchestral Society's Family Extravaganza were richly rewarded by a diverse and exciting programme played to the IOS' usual high standard - with dancing.

 

Conductor Adam Gatehouse introduced each piece amusingly along with its main players. A bright, energetic start was made with Khachaturian's Sabre Dance, followed by contrasting dances from Tchaikovsky's Snow White.

 

DanceEast's JS Youth Dance Company expressed Hérold's Clog Dance with interesting puppet-like choreography, and the dances from Copland's Rodeo and Times Square by Bernstein showed variety and skill in their interpretation.

 

Did you know that Mona Lisa was a bass trombonist in the Florence Symphony Orchestra? According to David Ferguson, her smile is just right to start 'buzzing' on the trombone. This set the tone for a witty rendering of Greenwood's The Acrobat.

 

After a noisy interval where the children enthusiastically enjoyed trying out the orchestra's instruments, a truly memorable Firebird Suite (Stravinsky) ensued with passages of great beauty, the energetic finale forming a vibrant end to a great concert.

 

Joy Bounds East Anglian Daily Times

 

 

 

Saturday 29 November 2008

 

Fine Music Akin to a Good Meal

 

The stately music of the prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, by Wagner, paved the way to an entertaining and satisfying evening of music.

 

Carl Maria von Weber's First Clarinet Concerto cannot fail to please, with its charming flowing melodies interspersed with breathtaking sections of virtuosity.  World famous soloist Michael Collins made light work of the technicalities.  With his apparent enjoyment of communicating with a long-loved friend, Collins sauntered through the movements, bringing the concerto to its conclusion with splendid panache.  Ipswich Orchestral Society provided a sympathetic partnership.

 

By this stage of the concert IOS were really playing at their best.  The controlled, evocative opening of Tod und Verkarung (Death and Transfiguration), Opus 24 by Richard Strauss gave way to the orchestra having full-rein with everyone playing magnificently.  The solo phrases, without exception, were admirable.

 

The light-hearted overture to Rossini's La Cenerentola (Cinderella) rounded off the evening in a heart-warming performance that included more lovely solo passages from the woodwind.

 

Conductor, Adam Gatehouse, is the man responsible for the orchestra's high standard.  His enthusiasm encourages the players to tackle ever-more demanding works.  Adam also likes to convey his joy of music to the audience.  I tried very hard to ignore his analogy of comparing the programme to a fine banquet - not because I didn't enjoy the music - but simply because I didn't agree with his choice of menu that included German Sausage and Jugged Hare.

Judith Newman
East Anglian Daily Times

 

 

 

 

Saturday 29 November 2008

 

Germanic Overtones to Concert

 

Ipswich Orchestral Society's Autumn concert took place on Saturday evening at the Corn Exchange, and their programme consisted of a collection of works from the 19th century.


There was a strong Germanic feel to the music, with three composers from Germany and one from Italy.


The concert began with Wagner's Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg providing the orchestra with a rousing opening.  This was followed by Weber's Clarinet Concerto No 1, which dates from the early part of the century.


The soloist was Michael Collins, who has been one of our most outstanding clarinettists for many years - his masterful technique and breadth of expression were the hallmarks of his playing throughout this concerto.


Adam Gatehouse, the conductor, was keen to link the concert programme to a restaurant menu, which ended up being a bit of a farce when he tried to make a Rossini overture fit his favourite dessert - a champagne sundae.  (Perhaps Strauss' Champagne Polka would have been more suitable!).


The second part of the concert began with Richard Strauss' tone poem, Death and Transfiguration, which describes the dying moments of a man who had ‘striven towards the highest artistic aims'.


The orchestra, now considerably enlarged, gave a totally convincing performance of this work with its huge range of dynamics and textures.  The decision to put the Overture La Cenerentola by Rossini at the end of the concert seemed strange, but it did make for a more cheerful, light-hearted finale instead of the dark, sombre tones of the Richard Strauss tone poem.

 

David Ruddock
Evening Star

 

 

 

Saturday 28 June 2008

 

 

Lloyd-Webber Ensures Full House

 

Concert going is something of a lottery: you don't know if it is going to be any good  until it is too late to avoid it. Fortunately, on this occasion, I very soon knew that I was on to a winner.

 

From the restrained opening of the Overture from Prince Igor, by Borodin, it was clear that the entire orchestra was on fine form. There were some lovely solo passages from the woodwind and brass. French horn player David Smith, in particular, deserves a mention for his beautiful mellow tones throughout the evening and the strings were, in turn, scintillating and lyrical.

 

I would guess that Julian Lloyd Webber was responsible for this concert being a sell-out. He was as one would expect of this well-known cellist and clearly pleased his following. Tchaikovsky's attractive Variations on a Rococo Theme is a perfect showpiece for Lloyd Webber's talents and he dramatically emphasized the extravagant cadenzas. This performance played with empathetic accompaniment from the IOS was taken from Tchaikovsky's original composition which has recently been revived.

 

As a salute to Suffolk, Lloyd Webber played the unaccompanied pizzicato Serenata from the Cello Suite No 1 by Benjamin Britten.

 

For me, the main attraction on the programme was Symphony No.10 in E minor, Opus 93 by Shostakovich. This is a challenging work and not something to be undertaken lightly.

 

Conductor Adam Gatehouse wisely introduced the symphony with a valuable explanation of the work written in 1953, just after Stalin's death, as Shostakovich looked back over the dreadful years he and his fellow countrymen had endured. Adam stated that the four movements could be depicted as Fear, the Dictator's brutality, Irony and then Humour (maybe macabre, resulting from extreme terror) but culminating in the triumph of survival.

 

The fear was almost palpable in first movement with a long drawn out building of tension, repetitive phrases and instruments playing at the extremes of their range. The brutality of the second movement, a personification of Stalin, was manifest by every instrument sounding like relentless, inexorable clanging machinery and underscored by violent fortissimo percussion. Its terrifying impact was mercifully short lived, but all the more potent for that.

 

IOS are fortunate in having the excellent Adam Gatehouse, but it is a two-way partnership and between them they gave an awe-inspiring performance.

 

Judith Newman
East Anglian Daily Times

Saturday 28 June 2008

 

 

Masterful Performance of Awesome Power on Show

 

 

Ipswich Orchestral Society gave their summer concert in the Corn Exchange on Saturday evening with a programme of nineteenth and twentieth century Russian music.

 

The concert began with Borodin’s Overture to his opera, Prince Igor, which he left unfinished at his death, but was later completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov.  The music is drawn from various parts of the opera but is less well known that the Polovtsian Dances which are a set of lively Russian dances, often played in the concert hall.

 

Next came Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with Julian Lloyd-Webber as the ‘cello soloist.  This piece, written in the style of Mozart, is full of interplay between the soloist and the orchestra and there was much to savour in Lloyd-Webber’s charming and delicately poised playing here.  

 

The second half of the concert consisted of one work – Shostakovich’s Symphony No 10 which he composed in 1953, the year of the death of Stalin, whose shadow falls inexorably over the whole of this intensely dramatic work.  The long, often painfully sombre first movement contrasts vividly with the powerful driving rhythms of the short second movement. 

 

A masterful performance of awesome power, appreciated by a capacity audience.

 

David Ruddock
Evening Star
   

Saturday 24 November 2007

 

Ipswich Orchestral Society's autumn concert programme consisted of three works by composers from the Romantic period of music, ie the bulk of the 19th and early 20th century. 

 

Elgar has been a prominent composer in concerts this year because it is the 150th anniversary of his birth, and the orchestra began with his concert-overture, In The South (Alassio).

 

It brilliantly captured the spirit of this work, which is a musical souvenir of a holiday he spent in Italy during the Winter of 1903-4.  The Neapolitan love song tenderly played by the solo viola in the middle section contrasted well with the rich expansive harmonies of the main theme.

 

Bruch's First Violin Concerto came next.  This is a lightweight affair compared with the rest of the programme and the soloist, Matthew Trusler - a highly regarded young British virtuoso - produced a warm, expressive tone, which perfectly suited the reflective lyrical mood of this work.

 

After the interval we were treated to a splendid performance of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony, subtitled the Romantic.  This is certainly the best known of the composer's early symphonies, and the orchestra came into its own in the unique cathedral-like sounds the composer created here.

 

The horn section plays a major part in the themes of the symphony and it should be congratulated for its tone-quality and expression, especially in the fanfares of the scherzo movement.

 

The conductor, Adam Gatehouse, guided the whole orchestra in a well-crafted performance of this mighty symphony.

 

David Ruddock
Evening Star

 

 

Saturday 26 November 2006

 

Ipswich Orchestral Society gave their autumn concert at the Corn Exchange on Saturday evening with an all-Russian programme of music.  Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich were the featured composers and the music was some of the best-known by these three. 

 

It was most appropriate to have Shostakovich in the concert as this is his centenary year.  The orchestra played three movements from his Gadfly Suite, including the popular Romance, and ending with the exciting Folkfest. 

 

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concert is very well-known and the soloist was one of BBC Radio Three’s New Generation artists - Llŷr Williams.  His command of the notes was clear and precise, but there was a lack of passion in his playing.  This concerto needs a rich tapestry of sound to bring out all the composer’s expressive intentions.

 

The orchestra performed with style and finesse throughout, but it was after the interval that they came into their own, with an intensely moving performance of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony – The Pathetique.  This was composed during the final months of his life in 1893 and he died just nine days after its first performance.  It is full of the composer’s dark mood of despair he felt at the time, especially in the tortuous final movement. 

 

The orchestra, under their regular conductor Adam Gatehouse, brought out all the emotions and inner conflicts of this symphony in their playing and left us, in the audience, feeling drained at the end. 

David Ruddock
Evening Star

 

 

 

 

Noriko Ogawa – Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
‘Ogawa, a Leeds International Piano Competition prize winner, played with finesse and style …’
Evening Star, 26 November 2001


Ashely Wass – Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 3
‘Wass played excellently, with all the confident precocity of a prodigy … The beautiful, echoing score accompanied Rachmaninov’s syncopated chords, contrasting with moments of madness and underlying drama of the piano’s vigorous and tempestuous dominance.’
East Anglian Daily Times, June 2001


Raphael Wallfisch – Dvorak Cello Concerto
‘Wallfisch played with authority in a performance that came straight from the heart …the orchestra proved to be in equal partnership with the soloist in the excellent finale.’
East Anglian Daily Time, June 2000


Anthony Goldstone – Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue
‘Goldstone is recognised as one of our finest pianists … the orchestra and soloist forged a successful partnership with a great deal of impressive playing from the pianist.’
East Anglian Daily Times, 11 June 1999


Emma Johnson – Weber Clarinet Concerto No 2
‘Right from the opening high E-flat of the first movement to the last note of the brilliant finale she held her audience spellbound with playing of the highest quality.’
Evening Star, 27 November 1995 


Peter Frankl – Schumann Piano Concerto
‘The IOS has been able to attract some high-ranking international musicians to appear as soloists and their latest performance was no exception … Peter Frankl’s rapport with the orchestra and conductor was immediately apparent and gave the players an extra edge of confidence that added sparkle to this piece.’
Evening Star, 15 June 1995


Tasmin Little – Brahms Violin Concerto
‘Her fame as an interpreter of the Brahms had preceded her appearance and she did not let the near capacity audience down … a performance of technical skill and musical mastery, and the audience was totally won over.’
Evening Star, 3 December 1994


Raymond Simmons – Hummel Trumpet Concerto
‘… he gave a dazzling performance with some remarkable virtuoso playing in the final movement.’
East Anglian Daily Times, 8 December 1993


Kathryn Stott – Beethoven Piano Concerto No 1
‘Kathryn Stott caressed the lovely melodies of the largo … and she played the first movement brilliantly.’
Evening Star, 11 June 1991

 


Robert Cohen – Dvorak Cello Concerto

‘… obviously in total sympathy with the music … nothing could have been lovelier than the Cantabile …’
Evening Star, 12 June 1990