REVIEW: SINFONIA VIVA, DERBY CATHEDRAL
HAVING lost their home concert base following the fire that closed the Assembly Rooms, Derby-based Sinfonia Viva were forced to cancel their date with guest conductor Fawzi Haimor.
But they managed to resurrect the event this week at Derby Cathedral. It seems a fitting place for the orchestra to use as a temporary concert base as it already hosts music groups from across the area and, down the A38 in Lichfield, the annual festival makes good use of the cathedral for similar events.
Viva's musicians seemed to adapt well to the surroundings and treated us to a splendid concert under Haimor's guidance.
The programme highlighted some lesser known works by well-known composers and featured cellist Leonard Elschenbroich as the guest soloist.
He was on hand to play Schumann's Cello Concerto in A Minor - a work of remarkable shading that perhaps isn't as often played as it should be. Elschenbroich's interpretation was enthusiastically received by the audience.
The concert opened with the rather lovely Overture to Il Ritorno di Tobia, Haydn's first oratorio composed in 1775 – some 20 years before the much better known Creation. This deserves equal status.
Before the interval we were also treated to Siegfried Idyll, which showed us a different side to Wagner. Those used to more bombast from the composer might be surprised by the delicacy but this was a piece dear to Wagner's heart.
His wife Cosima celebrated her birthday on Christmas Day and in 1870 Wagner presented this 20-minute work to her as a surprise.
And what a lavish present it turned out to be. Conductor Hans Richter learnt the trumpet especially for the occasion and, after rehearsing in secret, presented the work to Wagner's wife with a 13-strong ensemble on the staircase outside her bedroom.
Haimor, who is resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, told the story and gave us more insight after the interval into works by Sibelius and Beethoven.
The concert closed with the latter's Symphony No 1, again less well known than much of the composer's work but a personal favourite of Haimor's – and it was easy to see why.
The young Beethoven was still in awe of his predecessor when he wrote this symphony and draws heavily on Mozart and Haydn but Haimor says that you can already see how the inheritor of that legacy was finding his own voice.
Mozart had said 15 years previously: "Keep on eye on Beethoven. One day he will give the world something to talk about it."
With this symphony, that's when that prophecy began to come true.
Sinfonia Viva's next concert in Derby is an open-air one at Darley Park on Sunday, August 31