Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Haydn
Symphony No.6 in D (Le matin)
Mozart
La clemenza di Tito, K621 – Parto, Parto
Exsultate, jubilate, K165Berlioz
Symphonie fantastique, Op.14

Joan Rodgers (soprano)

Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Douglas Boyd


Reviewed by: Alan Pickering

Reviewed: 16 May, 2006
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

With Barbara Bonney indisposed, Joan Rodgers had taken her place. This late change meant the substitution of Mozart for the selection from Viennese operetta originally advertised.

The concert commenced with an excellent rendition of Haydn’s Symphony No. 6, the ‘morning’ part of a trilogy of symphonies, the others being ‘Midday’ and ‘Evening. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Douglas Boyd gave a vibrant account with notably fine woodwinds, as fine a contribution as leader Marieke Blankestijn’s in the following Adagio.

By contrast the Mozart was less convincing and not due to a change the performer for there was no lack of interplay between singer and orchestra. More of a problem was the excessive gyrations of Richard Hosford who played the clarinet obbligato in ‘Parto, Parto’ which diverted attention away from the music and, although otherwise admirable, Joan Rodgers displayed a certain lack of power at the lower end, which was also noticeable in “Exsultate Jubilate”.

Berlioz’s ‘Fantastic Symphony’ lived up to its name in this rendition. The first movement (Reveries – Passions) was particularly tempestuous, the second (Un bal) elegant, and the slow movement (Scène aux champs) included an excellent cor anglais solo, wonderfully echoed by the faraway oboe, the orchestra blending superbly to create a magnificent sound. ‘March to the scaffold’ was suitably shocking with its early ‘cut off’ and concluding ‘uproar’, and the final movement (Witches’ Sabbath) was characterised by an orchestra in ‘full cry’ with bells adding a rich tonal quality and a sombre feel.

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