The Perfect Fool Ballet Music Wallen
Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra in Three Movements Bax
Symphony No.1 in E flat
Jonathan Raper (percussion)
Trinity College of Music Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday, October 06, 2004 Concert Hall, Blackheath Halls, London SE3
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
The opportunity to experience a Bax symphony live remains rare; so hearty congratulations to Trinity College for programming the first of Arnold Baxs seven symphonies. Maybe more will follow?
Peter Stark proved a sympathetic interpreter although he didnt always disguise the sections of each of the three movements and, indeed, by marking episodes off with less than organic tempo relationships he tended to weaken the structure, certainly the first movement, which emerged as lacking integration. Some tuning and intonational difficulties took a while to establish itself, but, after this uncertain opening, the performance settled to reveal a sympathetic and powerful traversal, especially in the tragic slow movement. Baxs stormy, elegiac, and robustly resolved symphony was ultimately done proud.
The producers of the programme may like to consider supplying more detailed notes on the music being played, and ones in bigger print too and on this occasion Bax was killed off a year too early. (A mention of why the advertised Elgar Romance for bassoon wasnt played would have been nice.) Id have swapped the Elgar for Errollyn Wallens Percussion Concerto (written for the 1994 Young Musician of the Year Final). Plenty of notes, but not much music as a parade of undistinguished, seemingly unrelated ideas follow one another to tiresome effect. Jonathan Raper gave a virtuoso rendition, save for a temporary hiatus when he didnt pick enough sticks up.
The ballet music that opens Holsts opera was, like the Bax, somewhat sectionalised, and could have done with a little more preparation; the outer, rumbustious sections were just a tad too deliberate and the ethereal middle section overly sentimental. But an adventurous concert, and programming such as this is only to be congratulated.