November 16 2018
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Review: William Ruff
Playing of transparency and refinement from Sinfonia Viva
Soloist Chloë Hanslip’s lovely playing of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto must have made the audience scratch their heads and wonder why the piece isn’t better known. It’s a work which overflows with melody, the first two movements giving soloists the chance to play their hearts out. And even those who had never heard the concerto before, must have been humming the memorable slow movement tune in the interval.
And then there’s the finale, a complete contrast as Chloë so dazzlingly demonstrated, making it an unstoppable perpetual motion machine full of high-octane runs, hops, skips and jumps. But it’s the intense lyricism of the concerto which stays with you and which lies at its heart. Chloë produced just the right tone: sweet but not sugary, making her violin sing the solo part with almost operatic freedom and passion.
Conductor Nicholas Kok ensured that his Sinfonia Viva musicians were the most sympathetic of partners, razor-sharp in ensemble, dancing nimbly through the finale. Standing in at short notice (the orchestra’s new conductor was ill in hospital) Nicholas also directed the orchestra in Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, ensuring crystal-clear textures which allowed listeners to savour the many wonders of this miracle amongst symphonies. The finale, with its breath-taking fusion of five separate melodies, sounded wonderfully transparent right up to the triumphant drums-and-trumpets conclusion.
Sinfonia Viva’s Leader Benedict Holland was at the helm for the opening performance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, a work which the composer loved as much as he hated the 1812 Overture (written at exactly the same time). This is a piece in which detail is key and Sinfonia Viva’s strings relished every nuance, producing sound of refinement and richness, especially inspired in the second movement, perhaps the most elegant waltz which Tchaikovsky ever wrote.
Sinfonia Viva, conducted by Nicholas Kok, directed by Benedict Holland with Chloë Hanslip (violin)