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Bath Chronicle

(November Concert)

This concert was dedicated to the memory of a much loved, long-serving viola player and committee member, Leonora Franks, as conductor David Price mentioned in his introduction.

Hence the choice of the opener, Beethoven's Overture Leonora No 2, and an excellent start it was, firm, the build-up to the main theme carefully judged, finding the slightly brooding atmosphere before surging on to the sparkling finale.

The string playing was crisp and cohesive, and there was some suitable sounding brass.

Brahms' Violin Concerto is beautifully eloquent romantic music, full of good tunes, and Nadia Myerscough gave a precise and carefully conceived account of it.

She is very accomplished technically, as she demonstrated in the final springy rondo, with its difficult double stopping.

But the highlight, as always in this piece, is the second movement andante, with its gorgeous oboe obbligato, beautifully played and providing a delicious conversation with the solo violin.

A thoughtful, satisfying performance.

The Dvorak's 8th Symphony occupied the second half, a work packed with musical ideas, original orchestration and vivid colours. After a bold opening we had a lyrical, graceful andante, including some muscular brass, controlled and precise.

It was a fine performance, which found an excellent balance between the gentleness of the pastoral themes and the exuberance of the bustling conclusion.

Peter Lloyd William

Bath orchestra gives concert in Leonora's name

From thisisbath ...

Members of the Bath Symphony Orchestra are holding a special memorial concert for Leonora Franks, one of the orchestra's longest serving members who died last year aged 87.

On the programme for the concert at Bath Guildhall at 7.30pm on November 24 will be Beethoven's Leonora Overture No 2 which is from Fidelio, Beethoven's only opera.

Though not a founder member, Leonora played the viola in the orchestra for more than 50 years.

She was an active member of the orchestra's committee for many years, her particular contributions being her firm insistence on correct grammar and spelling in concert programmes, the overseeing of ticket sales, negotiations with venue administrators and the securing of world-class soloists, including Nadia Myerscough who will be playing with the orchestra for the seventh time in next week's concert.

As well as the Leonora Overture there will be Brahms' Violin Concerto with Nadia playing and Dvorak's Symphony No 8.

The Bath Symphony Orchestra is one of Bath's most impostant post war musical institutions. It gave its first public concert at the Pavilion on January 17 1949.

It owed its foundation to the initiative and enthusiasm of its first conductor, Ernest Monk, a piano teacher and organist at St John's Church, Bathwick. He invited Alois Sigl, a violin teacher in local schools, to be leader and auditions were held, a management committee set up and players were recruited. After its inaugural concert, the orchestra had a successful first season, giving three public concerts, which has been the pattern ever since.

Membership is in the region of 60 to 70 players and the music ranges from the classical to 20th century composers.

Soloists engaged are established professional musicians or young people of exceptional talent embarking on a solo career.

Of the latter, Freddy Kempf, now one of the most sought-after pianists in the world has been a regular since he first played with the orchestra as a very young child.

David Price was appointed as conductor in 2000 but he has recently resigned and the orchestra is now looking for a replacement.

David followed a long line of distinguished conductors. After Ernest Monk left Bath for Scotland in 1951, Allen Benett, director of music at the City of Bath Boys' School, was appointed musical director and conductor in 1952 and gave devoted and distinguished service until his death in 1977. He was followed for 12 years by Dr Eric Roseberry, who also inaugurated a series of successful summer chamber concerts given by members of the orchestra at the Holburne Museum.

Dudley Holroyd then took over and under his inspiring leadership the orchestra went from strength to strength and now enjoys a very high local reputation. Following his death in April 1998 Richard Dunster-Sigtermans was then appointed musical director and conductor until his resignation in September 2000. The orchestra then appointed David Price to the position.

Tickets are £12/£5 on 01225 463362.

The Forum, Bath

Monday, February 15, 2010

What better than a programme of the highest quality English music to warm the musical sensibilities on a cold winter's night? Vaughan Williams' Wasps Overture provided the opening buzz and some bright-edged trumpet playing added a sting to the texture, amid the folk tunes, arranged with subtle skill. After some initial minor disarray, the stings got their act together to conclude a very satisfying performance.

It was even more satisfying to hear the complete set of Elgar's Enigma Variations, accompanied by excellent programme notes, identifying the individuals to whom each referred. We had a captivating Variation XI featuring Dan the bulldog, a favourite of Elgar, an excellent Nimrod, sensitive and evocative, the strings now in fine form, the ensemble smooth and resonant, a warmly vibrant XII ( B G N) allowing the lower strings to show their depth and sonority and the brass came into their own in the final XIV, Elgar's own, resounding and richly lyrical. It was extremely well done, the contrasts carefully observed and the different moods brought imaginatively to life.

RVW's 2nd London Symphony provided the second half, portraying the city in all its different humours. The telling comparisons between night and day ~ the opening early morning very expressive of a sleeping city gradually coming to life, the distinction between frenetic activity crowded streets and relative tranquillity were beautifully realised. It was an admirably balanced reading which reached the heart of this splendid work, with some fine woodwind giving the sound that important astringent edge before the whispered finale.

A very satisfying evening's music, brought to a delightful conclusion by conductor David Price's final anecdote. After a performance of the Enigma Variations, a little bright-eyed old lady stood in the foyer clearly looking for a sympathetic ear, to which she confided, in a rush of excited enthusiasm: "I must tell someone: I'm number VI." It brought the house down.

Peter Lloyd Williams