Delightful Viennese evening

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THE postponed Christmas concert by Scarborough Symphony Orchestra, entitled Viennese Whirls, finally took place last week.

Despite the continuing problems of access a sizeable audience enjoyed the programme which consisted largely of music by the remarkable Strauss family, whose music, initially looked down on as mere dance-music, has become a respected part of Europe’s cultural heritage.

The overture to Johann Strauss Junior’s best known operetta, Die Fledermaus, got the evening off to a lively start. The second half included three waltzes (the Emperor, Wiener Blut and the Blue Danube) and the lively Perpetuum Mobile, the Pizzicato Polka and the Radetzky March. The Tritsch-Tratsch Polka was a much appreciated encore.

Shaun Matthew and the orchestra were on fine form, and the latter responded well to the frequent changes of mood and tempo. Some charming contributions were in evidence from both woodwind and string soloists.

Schumann’s piano concerto came before the interval. It is probably the best known of Romantic piano concerti, written by Schumann with his wife Clara in mind. She was a prodigiously gifted pianist, who spent over 60 years giving concerts all over Europe, championing the music not only of her husband but also of Brahms. She was one of the first pianists to play entire programmes from memory.

Emmanuel Vass is clearly a very gifted young pianist, and has already established himself as a soloist, but, Clara notwithstanding, playing from memory, especially with an orchestra, is not obligatory, and too frequent memory-lapses on the night detracted from his otherwise spirited performance.

However, Shaun did a fine job in keeping the piece on the rails, and pianist and orchestra finished triumphantly together.

Future concerts will take place in Queen Street Central Hall.