A ‘brilliant’ Festival send-off

Cambridge Critique reviews the Festival Finale concert by the Orpheus Sinfonia

Music is mostly an elusive abstract art.  But when the vigorous Orpheus Sinfonia joined forces last night the experience was anything but ethereal. The orchestra exudes a youthful energy – a sexy vibrancy to delight even a jaded concertgoer who’s done the distance of an action-packed Festival programme.  No wonder this is the fashionable go-to ensemble in London, and under the baton of Maestro David Hill they gave the Summer Music Festival a brilliant send-off.

The Hebrides Overture was a full immersion musical travel piece. Mendelssohn took a trip to the caves of Staffa off the stormy coast of Scotland when he was only 21. Somehow he managed to sketch 21 bars to record his experience. The immediacy shows. The waves crash, the boat lurches, the wind howls around the dangerous jagged rocks and we see it all in 3- dimensional drama.  And then suddenly  it’s over. After a dramatic climax the music fades and then ebbs away like the waves on the shore.

Patrtick Hemmerlé opened Beethoven’s Piano Concerto number 4 with the confidence of an accomplished player. It began a sublime recital. The orchestra was with him as he heroically battled the demons of depression and practically had a nervous breakdown as he pounded the keys seemingly in despair. But when he mysteriously recovered, rallied and played up with heroic valour, they were there to celebrate. It was like an audio version of the dark night of the soul, brilliantly uplifted by Beethoven’s genius and a sympathetic orchestra’s support.

The evening and the Festival finished in style. Mendelssohn again, still young, and in high spirits as he left gloomy Northern Europe for the fun of Italy. He was there for nearly a year and sketched out the Symphony Number 4 from his room in the Piazza di Spagna. He loved the country and the exuberance is there in the music as well as the sunshine and the joy of release from a work schedule to kill a donkey. The Orpheus was at one with the young composer. All the women players, looked beautiful – the men dashing and the entire ensemble a glorious triumph.

 The music has stopped for a while. It was a brilliant fortnight and next year thanks to generous funding, they promise an even more dazzling Festival.

Clear those diaries for 2020 it’s going to be awesome.

Review by Cambridge Critique