American Classics Performed On The Fourth Of July

Candide – Overture
Adagio for Strings
Rhapsody in Blue
Billy the Kid – Suite
An American in Paris

Lucy Parham (piano)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
David Charles Abell

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 4 July, 2007
Venue: Cadogan Hall, London

Not quite the panoramic choice of music needed for a “Fourth of July” programme – a Leroy Anderson gem and a march by Sousa would have been welcome leavening in a variable concert.

A little more rehearsal time would have benefited the overture to Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”, music full of pitfalls, not all of which were negotiated in this crudely projected account in which details didn’t always gel. Similarly in the Suite from Copland’s Billy the Kid ballet more variegation was needed to avoid a mundane traversal; expression and atmosphere fared better, though.

Rhapsody in Blue was like two performances in one! Lucy Parham was thoughtful, integrated and laconic, while David Charles Abell was keen on exaggerating effects, which were somewhat approximately realised, saxophones given prominence.

Barber’s Adagio for Strings, however, was soulful and eloquent, gravely beautiful and very sensitively played, Abell ensuring a seamless progression to an intense climax and an effective retreat to further introspection. Whereas Billy the Kid had been somewhat prosaic, tentative even, Gershwin’s An American in Paris (with car horns firmly in tune) found both playfulness and seclusion as well as unforced exuberance that reminded just what a masterpiece this work is.

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