Harpenden Musicale still making an impression

PUBLISHED: 11:05 23 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

OVER the years the annual concert by The Musicale Young Artists Symphony Orchestra has never failed to impress. And Saturday s event at Harpenden Public Hall continued the great tradition of excellence with one of the toughest programmes to date. The con

OVER the years the annual concert by The Musicale Young Artists' Symphony Orchestra has never failed to impress.

And Saturday's event at Harpenden Public Hall continued the great tradition of excellence with one of the toughest programmes to date.

The concert, which comes at the end of Harpenden Musicale's annual summer school, brings together some of the best young musicians from across the country and also from Europe for a week of intense music making.

This year the programme started with what is probably Sibelius' best known work, Finlandia. At the opening of this powerful piece my immediate reaction was that once more the orchestra had a very fine brass section but it soon became clear that every part of the orchestra was just as good.

The work is strong and dynamic and the young musicians gave it everything it needed for a fine performance.

Just as Finlandia is well known, few people in the audience had heard Henryk Wieniawski's second D minor violin concerto before, but 18-year-old Henry Bentley gave a solo performance in the work which put it high on many people's CD "to buy" list.

Henry, from Northants, who has just finished at the Purcell School and is about to begin studies at the Royal Academy of Music, won the right to perform at Saturday's concert in Musicale's Eisteddfod earlier this year and his performance on Saturday demonstrated his huge ability.

For, by any standard, Wieniawski's concerto is difficult, particularly in the dazzling third movement which is a real piece of musical fireworks, and something which Henry played with great skill and expression.

The major work of the evening was Dvorak's great Seventh Symphony, a work which, because of its sheer scale, must initially have been approached with some apprehension by the young musicians.

But the result was a truly outstanding performance which revealed some excellent individual players in the orchestra. The music was beautifully defined and the overall effect was a performance which could not have been bettered by any but the top professional orchestras.

The overall success of the festival of music not just this year, but in the past, is down to the enthusiasm of David and Gill Johnston and their staff who run Musicale and who, between them, have done so much not only for young musicians locally but across the country.

JOHN MANNING

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