Review: National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, at Symphony Hall
Aug 13 2010 By Norman Stinchcombe
In a concert devoted to three pieces of musical fantasy these prodigiously talented young players gave suitably inspired performances.
The composer Julian Anderson was justifiably delighted with the NYO’s thrilling delivery of his five-movement Fantasias which received its European premiere. Its blazing opening fanfare, sounding like a turbocharged version of Janacek’s Sinfonietta, was seized by the brass players as a chance to show their prowess. Anderson’s cunningly crafted piece, with many ear-tickling sonorities, provided opportunities for every section to shine with its huge forces – players crammed to the edge of the platform – handled deftly.
Under the direction of conductor Semyon Bychkov the playing was disciplined, crisp and with razor-sharp ensemble – but without diminishing the orchestra’s exuberance.
Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice is not only a brilliantly orchestrated scherzo but a fun piece and it was a pleasure to see the orchestra expressing that in their playing and demeanour – too seldom do we see smiling players on the concert platform. Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique here lived up to its name; with a pensively romantic opening, whirling ballroom dances (with five excellent harpists), emotionally desolate pastoral scene, illuminated by lovely woodwind, all topped off by Bychkov whipping up a wickedly devilish witches’ Sabbath. Really fantastic!