Review: Scarborough Symphony Orchestra, Queen Street Methodist Hall

Shaun Matthew

This was the third in the Scarborough Symphony Orchestra’s season. Unusually it also featured the Scarborough Choral Society, fresh from their successful Christmas Oratorio.

Orchestra and choir (numbering more than 100) opened the programme with Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs.

This was a product (in 1902) of his decision to write American Music, and he had assembled 10 well-known all-American tunes for the occasion, some of them well-known over here.

Although the melodies are tuneful and straightforward, Copland’s arrangements represent quite a challenge for orchestra and choir alike, and it was good to see Shaun Matthew keeping the two forces firmly together throughout,

The choir sang with gusto, and despite the unfamiliar setting and accompaniment acquitted themselves with credit – with its conductor Evelyn Halford taking a supportive place in the ranks of the sopranos.

It was an impressive collaboration.

Della Blood’s performance of the one-movement Chaminade Flute Concertino was brilliantly successful; her playing of this difficult piece was technically impeccable, and she captured well the character of the music.

Shaun ensured that the orchestra supported rather than dominated the flute, and the applause at the end was evidence of how much the performance had been enjoyed – provoking a well-merited encore from Della: Debussy’s Syrinx, written for unaccompanied flute.

Brahm’s Second Symphony is a very big work, but perhaps more approachable than the First, which the orchestra played last season.

Shaun steered the orchestra through all the various changes of tempo and dynamics to produce a polished and energetic performance; the combined forces of Shaun and the orchestra (not forgetting their hard-working leader, violinist Tony Mason) once again proved themselves equal to the considerable challenge of this massive work. A thoroughly enjoyable concert.

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