Lakeland Sinfonia Concert Review
Saturday 15 December
The Lakeland Sinfonia presented the society’s annual Christmas concert in the Westmorland Hall on Saturday 15 December. The centrepiece of the programme was Beethoven’s mighty fifth piano concerto, the Emperor, with the Welsh pianist Llyr Williams as soloist. Following a long tradition, the rest of the programme was a potpourri of popular classics with works by Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Ernest Tomlinson and Manuel de Falla.
The programme opened with a spirited account of Mozart’s operatic overture Idomeneo. The performance sparkled and the high quality of the playing set the standard for the rest of the evening.
Llyr Williams’ magisterial performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto drew enthusiastic applause from the audience. There was so much to admire in this performance: Llyr William’s technical command of the difficult solo part, the beauty of his sound in the slow movement and the interaction between soloist and orchestra, so well managed by conductor Wyn Davies. Llyr Williams was recalled to the stage many times and rewarded us with a lovely performance of a Schubert Impromptu.
Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba showcased the orchestra’s two oboists, Sue Austin and Rachel Malloch, who have such an important part to play in this piece. Wyn Davies set a steady tempo which resulted in a controlled and clearly articulated performance.
Next came Vivaldi’s only concerto for two trumpets played with great confidence and style by Stella and Peter Crompton. This was followed by Vaughan Williams’ well-known Fantasia on Greensleeves. The prominent opening flute solo was beautifully played by the orchestra’s principal flautist, Christine Lorriman.
The Lancastrian composer, Ernest Tomlinson, is known as a composer of light music, tuneful works, colourfully orchestrated; we heard three pieces from his Story of Cinderella, first broadcast on the radio in 1955. Light music has its own challenges for an orchestra and these were well met by the Lakeland Sinfonia.
Finally, came a performance of Manuel de Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance from his opera Love the Magician. The rhythmic momentum of this piece was well maintained by the orchestra who showed no signs of flagging. Indeed, the playing throughout the evening was first rate, revealing the talents of many local players and others further afield, and not forgetting, of course, the indefatigable conductor Wyn Davies. He has a long association with the orchestra and is much respected by the players who respond so well to his enthusiastic direction. After the concert, Llyr Williams was heard to say in private that the Lakeland Sinfonia was the best amateur orchestra he had worked with. High praise indeed!