Review of the 1998 Leicestershire SSO performance - Peter Coussee
31 May 1998
The Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra celebrated its first half-century of existence by giving a public ‘run-through’ (ie an informal concert) of works it has previously performed in public [and recorded on CD]. Our Society was honoured by having Brian’s 10th Symphony included.
Glinka’s Ruslan & Ludmilla overture received a brisk and bright performance which resulted in the players being called to their feet to acknowledge well-merited applause. The following work, Bernstein’s Candide overture, resulted in a similar call. The orchestra’s leader was the soloist in the opening movement of Bruch’s Violin Concerto no 1. A nice clean performance but I felt it dragged a little. A slightly faster tempo would have helped it.
Brian’s 10th came next; a performance with noticeably clean textures and a good ensemble which the whole audience noticed. It was very well received and the players were again asked to stand and acknowledge the applause - twice!
After a very short interval, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances were played in a fine performance marred only by similar tempi in all four sections; and again the audience demanded that the players should stand twice.
This was a real, though informal, concert and not the mere play-through the posters seemed to indicate. Those unlucky enough not to hear it missed a real treat since, apart from the joy of hearing a live performance of a Brian work (instead of leaving it lodged in limbo), there was an atmosphere of freshness about the whole event; the players were playing, not working. This came over to the audience which, incidentally, also goes to prove that there is a general audience for Brian. The musical establishment doesn’t see this. But then there are none so blind as those who will not see.