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Concert Reviews - 25 March 2017 - Bottesini Magic

Sylvester Kroyherr - Published in Bohemian Rhapsody Club online Newsletter


Given at: Eldon Hogan Performing Arts Centre, XAVIER COLLEGE, Barkers Road, Kew on 25/3/2017. Conductor: Mark Shiell
Soloists: Phoebe Russell (Double Bass).

Following a brief and informative pre-concert talk by Mark Shiell, the packed audience was presented with Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest Fantasy Overture. Based on Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, the slow and mystic beginning from the horns and strings was well handled, leading onto a well mannered build-up. With the sweet mid section grounded by the six double basses, the effects of the storm was well recreated along with the melodious strings, leading to a big punchy ending.

Although the piece did not appear to be typically Tchaikovsky, the serene and peaceful ending was quite satisfying.

The next offering was the Double Bass Concerto No. 2 by Giovanni Bottesini. An immediate majestic energy linked the orchestra and Phoebe, who appeared to be completely absorbed in the piece, displaying a highly polished technique. She took complete command along with a fabulous cadenza, embellished by passionate double stops – exciting to listen to and to watch! The magic continued with the slow second movement, heralding fine intonation by all, creating richness and melancholy warmth — at times, the double bass taking on the sound of a cello. Along with a bright start by the orchestra, Phoebe, with closed eyes and flowing hair, continued to impress the audience, showing off her amazing technique and feel for the instrument. Her unique talents were greatly appreciated by the audience, giving her a standing ovation — deservedly so!

Following the interval, the orchestra regrouped to present Symphony No.2 by Brahms. With power and energy, the orchestra responded to Mark's directions to develop the march-like dominating theme of the first movement. A full bodied interplay of the instruments flowed to a well conceived and playful ending. The second movement showed off the strong dominance of the strings with emotion and gentleness. With harmonious interplay from the oboe, bassoon and flute, the third movement flowed well to develop the themes, while given sensitive treatment by the strings. Lastly, the finale exploded with firm confidence, including good double base coverage. Energetic and attacking playing was further enhanced by the strings deploying some fine staccato and pizzicato passages, concluding with a strong and happy ending – fully satisfying the appreciative audience!

Congratulations to Mark Shiell, Phoebe Russell and the Zelman Symphony Orchestra, as we look forward to future events in 2017. A most enjoyable, exciting and enriching concert – well done everyone, including all the volunteers!

SYLVESTER KROYHERR (Singer/Musician/Architect)

30 March 2017.

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