All Greek for Hertfordshire Philharmonia

The young Greek guitarist Dimitris Dekavallas was the soloist in the Hertfordshire Philharmonia s concert at St Saviour s Church on Saturday. Under the assured guidance of their guest conductor Patrick Bailey, the orchestra began with Rossini s William Te

The young Greek guitarist Dimitris Dekavallas was the soloist in the Hertfordshire Philharmonia's concert at St Saviour's Church on Saturday.

Under the assured guidance of their guest conductor Patrick Bailey, the orchestra began with Rossini's William Tell Overture in which the opening cello section encountered some tuning problems.

But the full orchestra soon established a colourful Alpine atmosphere with cheery woodwinds and strings before a rumbustious gallop through the well-known finale led by exuberant brass.

Rodrigo's Aranjuez Concerto is rightly celebrated as one of the finest of its kind. Dimitris Dekavallas, recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, has won a number of prizes and awards both in Britain and his native Greece.


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From the very first opening chords he showed himself to be an excellent performer, mature beyond his years. Balance between soloist and orchestra is crucial in a guitar concerto and in the first movement, apart from a few moments when the large orchestra threatened to turn up the volume too far, the soloist was able to demonstrate his fine tone and seemingly effortless technique.

In the famous second movement the dialogue between cor anglais and guitar soloist was delightfully handled by both players, Dekavallas providing a poetic and expressive account which culminated in a thrillingly played cadenza, all the while matched by Patrick Bailey's skilful handling of the orchestral forces.

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The soloist went on to capture the sunny, dance-like nature of the final movement, full of humour and nuance in its conversation with the orchestra. This is a young man to look out for in the future.

The orchestra concluded with Carl Nielsen's Fifth Symphony, written soon after the First World War. Song-writing was always important to Nielsen, and this symphony shows both his lyricism as well as his mastery of a powerful, darker mood, influenced by the violence and horrors of war.

The composer himself talked of the battle between good and evil in this symphony. The Philharmonia played with commitment and enthusiasm, bringing out the multiple shades of dark and light, as the lyrical themes alternated with the testingly demonic passages of orchestral fireworks.

Ian Gammie

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