Review Summer 2010

 The Deeside Orchestra

Summer Concert

Friday 14 May 2010

 A big ‘Bravo’ for Deeside Orchestra

The Deeside Orchestra demonstrated their musical progress and prowess in their Summer Concert in the Aboyne Theatre last Friday.  In recent years they have matured into a very good amateur orchestra.

The most difficult music to play successfully is slow, quiet music.  And for any performer, the first piece is the most nerve-racking as one gets into one’s musical stride. The concert commenced with Nicolai’s Overture to the Merry Wives of Windsor, a bright bubbly piece but one which commences with a slow quiet evocation of moonlight.  The orchestra took the first minute to find its musical feet, but once the piece developed into a bright tuneful piece (more reminiscent of the repertoire in the Orchestra’s famous Viennese Evenings), the confidence settled in.

The main piece in the first half was Mozart’s K488 Piano Concerto in A major, with the inestimable Donald Hawksworth as soloist, playing the Aboyne Bechstein grand piano.  The first movement was generally sunny with Mozart’s occasional melancholic touches ably handled by all. The slow second movement allowed the orchestra to show their ability at bringing out the different voices and sections in the ensemble to compliment the soloist who dazzled in the final Presto movement.

Before the interval we were treated to a performance of Fauré’s Pavane.  The haunting flute solo was longingly delivered by Mary Holt floating over pizzicato strings.

The second half commenced with the Symphony Number 1 by Beethoven.  A meaty, well known piece, which reflects the composer’s musical past but reveals his own development.  The piece starts with a twelve bar sequence of chords in the ‘wrong’ key, eventually revealing the real key of the symphony (C major), while the finale opens with a set of partial scales played slowly before turning to a C-major scale to mark the real start of the boisterous allegro. The full orchestra, well into its stride by now, delivered a robust and well balanced performance with good interplay of the string and wind sections, and strong bass and brass lines with the percussionist adding ably to the drama.

Jay Ungar’s piece Ashokan Farewell has become a popular musical item (number 19 in the Classic FM Hall of Fame top 300).  Composed in 1982 as a waltz after the close of the summer Fiddle and Dance Camps at Ashokan in the Catskill Mountains, it is often thought of as a Scottish tune.  It has become equally at home on a wide variety of instruments, including the bagpipes.  This orchestral version commenced with a statement of the main theme played with feeling by Andy Linklater, which was then taken up by a duet of violin and cello, subsequently bringing in a viola and additional strings until we were treated to a string band version.  This expanded further to incorporate the wind section, and eventually the brass and percussion, before winding down to a reprise of the main theme.

If we thought that was a real treat, the orchestra surprised us with a complete change of style by finishing with a selection from the musical ‘Chicago’ by John Kandler.  This was a real gem of a finale with the whole orchestra appearing to let their hair down and enjoy being a bit less ‘serious’. The swing and syncopation had the audience swaying in their seats and provided an uplifting and energetic end to the programme.  The orchestra took their bow to well deserved calls of ‘Bravo’ from the audience.

The orchestra has developed into a real local treasure.  That a relatively small local population can supply such a range of talented amateur musicians is remarkable.  It was heartening to see such a range of ages in the orchestra from 9-year old Euan McGowan to the evergreen ‘over 21’ Andy Linklater.  This bodes well for the future.  That they can all devote their spare time and considerable effort in individual practice and joint rehearsal is highly commendable.  The conductor, Glynn Hesketh, and the leader, Richard Clark, have got the band well-drilled.  Good starts and finishes are key to delivering a good musical performance and the orchestra was obviously well rehearsed, with good entrances and particularly good endings, as well as good dynamics, contributing to an enjoyable performance. The work of all the orchestra members shows in the development of quality of their own music and in the collective musical experience the orchestra delivers.  In this programme they showcased their ability to perform a wide variety of music successfully.  They have advanced their marker again.  Congratulations all.  Keep it up.

Oh – and the liquids and solids provided afterwards gave us all an opportunity to meet the orchestra members as they wound down from their ‘high’ of completing a successful performance and we, the audience, from the ‘high’ of truly enjoying it.  The whole evening was a real success.  Definitely ‘Bravo’.

Bob Naylor