The New Professionals

Symphony No.33 in B flat, K319
Clarinet Concerto in A, K622
Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K546
Symphony No.5 in B flat, D485

Peter Cigleris (clarinet)

The New Professionals
Rebecca Miller

Reviewed by: Douglas Cooksey

Reviewed: 31 March, 2006
Venue: The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead, Church Row, London, NW3

Established in 1999 by Rebecca Miller, The New Professionals is a quality band of young musicians at the outset of their careers, many playing regularly with the London orchestras. American born, UK domiciled, Miller is currently Conducting Fellow of the Houston Symphony and Assistant Conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony. Possessed of a clear, communicative conducting style, she has the ability essential to any real conductor to engage an orchestra’s attention and get its members to play with precision and fire.

Billed as “A Mozart Birthday Celebration”, but capped off with Schubert, the juxtaposition of the rarely played Symphony No.33 with the evergreen Clarinet Concerto worked remarkably well, especially when leavened by the nutritious Adagio and Fugue, a Klemperer favourite. In the symphony Miller hit the ground running, the outer movements’ Allegro assai marking taken literally. The minuet went with a fine swing and at this speed the exuberant finale’s lolloping second theme almost seemed to prefigure Schubert.

The light-footed and lilting performance of the Clarinet Concerto was a joyous antidote to all those soporific ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity’ renditions. Peter Cigleris, the orchestra’s principal clarinet, absorbed by the enlightenment of ‘period’ performance (he has a particular interest in early clarinets and has performed Fasch’s Concerto for Chalumeau, a 17th-century forebear of the clarinet), took swift speeds for the outer movements and decorated the line freely, the music freshly minted. Full justice was also done to the Adagio, the concerto’s emotional core, with the return of the main idea brought off with real magic. In this superb performance all life’s gaiety and sadness seemed to co-exist, an essential conundrum that makes Mozart’s greatest music so extraordinarily potent.

After the interval – although in Hampstead Parish Church one can one still use the pews as a drinks rest and enjoy good wine during the performance – the Adagio and Fugue was attacked with a degree of vehemence which would have been out of place with a larger group of strings but which here seemed entirely appropriate. The Fugue’s chromaticisms gave these musicians a few problems, but there was a conviction that counted for more than mere correctness.

Best of all was the airborne Schubert that positively fizzed with youthful energy with speeds again fleet in the outer movements if cannily sturdy in the Minuet, which for once was a real Austrian dance. In what was a very revealing performance, overall, in the Andante con moto Miller extracted playing of quite unusual weight and profundity.

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