Back to back concerts from SinfoniaViVA present music from across the ages and an entire spectrum of emotional sensations.
There are three major inarguable truths in music: The Beatles are the best band, Johann Sebastian Bach is the best composer and Beethoven 5 is the best symphony.* They’re kind of like Stalin in that way…
SinfoniaViVA under the baton of Garry Walker on Tuesday demonstrated that potentially one of these is true.
The fifth symphony from Beethoven is a tightly structured work but one which exhibits a powerful exhalation of emotion. The fact that the symphony is so compelling at just half an hour in length is testament to the composer’s command of the medium and provides a subtle nod towards composers such as Sibelius.
The enthusiastic performance by the orchestra was often exhilarating. They were powerful without being bombastic, tasteful but not overly restrained.
In keeping with SinfoniaViVA’s concert structure of symphony-concerto-symphony, Haydn’s Symphony No.70 and Brahms double concerto for violin and cello were provided as genuinely interesting and thought-provoking works, with a stand out performance from cellist Guy Johnston.
There is a case to be made that this work is almost as emotionally challenging as the Beethoven, being the last orchestral work he wrote and making strong use of the FAE, ‘free but lonely’ motif which was a personal motto of Brahms’.
Thomas Gould on violin was solid, but his performance of Arvo Pärt’s ‘Fratres’ in the after-hours concert was far more powerful.
Haydn symphonies are often quaint, jovial works and Walker drew these qualities out of the work very well, with deft touch and lightness of foot. Perhaps the work was chosen to give the audience a false sense of security before plummeting the emotional catacombs of the later works in the programme.
In the after-hours concert, a chamber form of SinfoniaViVA was joined by Thomas Gould and trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth. Helseth is part of the EMI rostrum of artists which also includes Alison Balsom. The Norwegian performed James Macmillan’s ‘Seraph’, a technically fiendish work which contained several blemishes but presented a wonderful tone pallet.
*In The Tab’s opinion: wrong, right and maybe.