Review: Solid, crisp and colourful Sinfonia delight

Clive Peacock reviews the Leamington Sinfonia at Kingsley School

Monday, 21st March 2016, 4:29 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2016, 4:32 pm
Yu-Fen Lin

Just how would Leamington Sinfonia follow up their terrific Bruckner success in December? The decision - an evening of Sibelius, Rachmaninov and Nielson. Sibelius composed his Karelia Suite and Rachmaninov wrote his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini as Bruckner’s health was deteriorating in 1890’s and life ebbing away. So we moved from Bruckner’s frequently revised compositions to a work inspired by the simple life of the Karelian people – a work in three parts. Fine clarinet and cor anglais playing captured differing melancholic moods and displayed the full richness of colours of early Sibelius works. Vibrant calls to battle bring this uncomplicated piece to a close, conductor Thomas Payne keeping the pace in check.

Taiwanese born Yu-Fen Lin, now a London-based music tutor, led the orchestra through Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, comprising a set of 24 variations with a great deal of style; in effect a piano recital within a large-scale work.

Bruckner had been much influenced by Wagner, so too, Nielsen had been impressed with Wagner’s techniques. However his composing is much closer to the work of Brahms with a Danish flavour, in a way the opposite of Wagner. Leamington’s Robert Simpson describes the First Symphony as one of the most highly organised first symphonies. Crisp movement endings, solid horn contributions – not something there is usually good reason to mention - and hard work by leader, Edward Boothroyd holding the strings together, resulted in Thomas Payne being able to enjoy another happy event.