Lightning strikes for St Albans Symphony Orchestra

INTENSE and prolonged thunder and lightning hardly made Saturday evening the best time to listen to music. The continued flashing and rumbling, together with the oppressive atmosphere, did little to help either musicians or audience at St Albans Symphony

INTENSE and prolonged thunder and lightning hardly made Saturday evening the best time to listen to music.

The continued flashing and rumbling, together with the oppressive atmosphere, did little to help either musicians or audience at St Albans Symphony Orchestra's concert in St Saviour's Church.

But in spite of everything Koren Wilmer, a member of the orchestra for many years showed herself to be an outstanding musician as soloist in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto.

Her performance was both delicate and clean, exhibiting fine tonal qualities and a complete understanding of the work.


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In particular the second movement was a high point of the performance with its soft, dreamlike opening.

The event was something of a swansong for Koren as she is soon moving away from St Albans and departing from the orchestra. But she leaves the orchestra and its audience with a fine performance to remember her by.

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Opening the concert was Paul Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, a rarely-heard but interesting work.

Conductor James Ross imposed a strict tempo on much of the four-movement piece which trailed over many different musical styles from Hungarian to 20th century American via Chinese and South-East Asian.

The work has many pleasing melodies and made full use of the orchestra's brass section.

Particularly interesting was the scherzo which is based on an original Chinese theme. The movement makes full use of the jazz idiom but also appears to make passing references to Gamelan music with its excellent use of a large percussion section.

The evening ended with a performance of Brahms' Second Symphony, an event to be remembered for the thunder which crashed around it.

It appeared, initially, that the musicians were losing out to the forces of nature but the third movement in particular was a delight with its excellent oboe solo. Overall the orchestra did extremely well in some extraordinary conditions as the storm lasted throughout the entire concert

JOHN MANNING

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