National Youth Orchestra Of Great Britain
Conducted by John Wilson
Friday 6th January 2016
At Symphony Hall Birmingham
A Winter Journey
Lauren Marshall, Suspended Between Earth And Air with Joshua Mock* as guest conductor
Brett Dean, Komarvo’s Fall
Karol Szymanowski, Symphony No 4 (Sinfonia Concertante) with Tamara Stefanovich on piano
Sergei Rachmaninov, Symphony No 2
To say the NYO of Great Britain is one of the finest musical organisations in the country is to err on the side of understatement. They are simply wonderful. I came to fall for this wonderful orchestra when I saw their performance during last year’s Proms when their handling of Gustav Holst’s Planet Suite left me flabbergasted, at both the sheer mastery of their playing, and the fact that they were all so young. The experience left me resolved to keep this wonderful gem of an orchestra in focus watching as it continues to provide an outlet for young musicians who will light up the stage for many years to come.
Tonight they played another concert that is a testimony to the fine work of this orchestra and proudly supports the fact that their ethos is a noble and worthy one. It was evident from the very beginning when we were treated to a surprise piece not originally listed. One that was written by the orchestra’s principal composer Lauren Marshall called Suspended Between Earth and Air. The piece itself was one of those typical modern compositions, which oscillate sharply, jagged and sharp in their contortions, and this too was wonderfully constructed in that mode. It was a treat and fitted in with the direction of the concert, setting us up perfectly for the next piece which was Dean’s piece Komarov’s Fall. So well blended where these two pieces that one thought they had stumbled into the film score of a futuristic nightmare set deep in the cold wastes of space. I for one hope we hear more of this young composer in the future, and that this piece gets performed more often.
Hardly had one time to breathe or recover from the modernistic style which begun this concert when the Orchestra took us backwards to an earlier part of the modern period with Karol Szymanowski’s Symphony No 4 (Sinfonia Concertante), this time joined on stage by Tamara Stefanovich. Together they treated the audience to such a wonderful rendition of a difficult and strikingly beautiful symphony. Karol Stefanovich is a truly breathtaking pianist and such wonderful talent. Her playing is quite simply stunning and blended in with the orchestra to take us on a rollercoaster of sheer delight and pleasure that the audience could not help but yell out to show their approval. A special cheer was given for Leora Cohen the new leader of the Orchestra and one would have been stingy to say that it was not well deserved, not only for Miss Cohen but all the players.
The concert was finished with Rachmaninov’s second symphony and the young musicians all of whom it must be remembered are between the ages of 13 and 19 were more than able to match the complexities of this fantastic symphony. They were not daunted by the music or the fact this concert was live on radio, but they played so finely that you could forget their young ages. The rapturous applause bestowed on them by the audience was more than well earned. This concert was fantastic. The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain really is an outstanding organisation, and if their musicians are anything to go by the future of music in this country is in great hands. Bravissimo indeed.
For more information on where the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain are performing so you can see them (and you really, really should) check out the link here.
* CORRECTION: I had previously attributed Charlie Jones as the guest conductor on this piece and have corrected this mistake.