The question posed by the Leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia at Saturday’s concert remains unanswered: was this the first time Mahler’s First Symphony had been performed live in Richmond? Had it not been for Iain Farrington’s brilliant arrangement for fifteen musicians, it certainly wouldn’t have happened at RSC’s second concert of the season. This huge orchestral work normally calls for a hundred musicians, but there isn’t a venue in Richmond that could accommodate such a vast number (and the RSC, sadly, probably couldn’t afford to stage it).
What we heard was different in tone, texture and volume from the full orchestral version but wow, did it sound good! Every instrumentalist was a soloist and they each gave it their all, which allowed the clarity of the musical line to shine out. Should anyone ever question the excitement and exhilaration of being at a live performance, this would have put paid to their doubts. The audience gave it their rapt attention and was spell-bound throughout the concert.
In the first half, we enjoyed Richard Strauss’s String Sextet from Capriccio and Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, written for his wife as a birthday present and performed for her as she awoke on Christmas morning. A bit different from the way most parents are woken on Christmas morning but Cosima’s life certainly wasn’t typical.
This was a stunning second concert in the RSC series, rivalling the triumph of the Doric Quartet in the first performance of the season. Can the third one match up to the high standard that has been set? Make sure you’re there to find out, on 23 November.
(Many thanks to our member, Elizabeth Bedford, for the above review.)
After the concert, a leaving collection was held for the Swaledale and Wensleydale Flood Recovery Fund. This raised an excellent total of £602. Many thanks to all donors for your generosity, which will support a very good cause indeed.
Royal Northern Sinfonia in Richmond, 19 October 2019. Photo by Jane Morris-Abson
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