On Saturday, 5th October, St. Christopher’s Church swelled with the music of Goulet, Elgar, Mozart and Beethoven as an appreciative audience of music lovers enjoyed Enigma Orchestra’s second concert.
It is quite astonishing to think that Enigma Orchestra had only been practising together for a month before the concert – the orchestra was simply amazing; with never a wrong note or a mistimed bow-stroke to detract from what was a fantastic programme. It is even more amazing to note that the orchestra is made up from amateur, semi-professional and London conservatoire musicians with some professional musicians – the standard of each performance was incredibly high.
Once again Rupert Bond conducted. Mr. Bond is very well-respected in the music world and has a vast amount of experience as a conductor. His skills as a conductor and his passion for the music were obvious – and he was in absolute control of the orchestra at all times.
The Leader of the Orchestra, Fiona McLean-Bluechel, also has a string of credits to her name, having a busy career as a performer as well as writing creative and collaborative national and international performance projects. Ms. McLean-Bluechel kept all the strings on their toes, their bows seeming to move as one instrument, every bow-stroke in synch with her own.
The programme began with Goulet’s Symphonic Chocolates/Chocolate Symphoniques. Everyone had been given a box of four hand-made chocolates (from Urban Village Chocolates) – one chocolate to eat for each movement. This was a truly novel way to enjoy the music and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. This symphony had never before been played in the UK, so this was a unique experience. The chocolates and movements were described in the Programme as:
1st movement – Caramel Chocolate: ‘a long, lyrical melody supported by a rich and enveloping sonority’.
2nd movement – Dark Chocolate: ‘an intense habanera of desire and seduction, spiced up with a dissonant bitterness’.
3rd movement – Mint Chocolate: ‘a delicate freshness with icy cold sonorities’.
4th movement – Coffee-infused Chocolate: ‘an espresso tempo with a Brazilian flavour’.
The second offering was the Serenade for Strings in E. Minor Op. 20 by Elgar. Written in 1892, this piece was strongly influenced by Wagner and here and there can be heard a touch of a ‘Siegfried Idyll’ or a ‘Tristan chord’. The Serenade was sublime! Violins, violas, cellos and double-basses blended beautifully, every bow stroke choreographed to produce a perfectly balanced sound.
The last piece before the Interval was Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 25 K503. This Concerto was completed in 1786 and is recognised as one of Mozart’s greatest masterpieces in the Concerto genre. Internationally-renowned soloist Kathron Sturrock featured, her fingers flying nimbly across the keyboard of the Fozioli piano – its tone as beautiful as its glistening ebony veneer. This piece made considerable demands on the skill of the soloist – after the exposition had been played by the Orchestra, the piano was almost never silent. A breath-taking performance and much appreciated by the audience.
The Programme finished with Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 in A, Op. 92 – a fitting piece to end on and an absolute masterpiece played with considerable élan by the Orchestra. Beethoven wrote this symphony in 1811-1812 and considered it to be one of his finest works. This is a fairly well-known piece of music – the 2nd movement (the Allegretto) has been used as background music in films as varied as ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’. It has also been used as a funeral march. The lively rhythms which permeate the work were referred to by Wagner – who was fascinated by Beethoven – as ‘the apotheosis of the dance’. Enigma played this symphony with skill and vigour – the warmth of the audience’s applause at the end was testament to the skill of each and every musician. It was a perfect performance.
Enigma Orchestra sent us home in good spirits, with Beethoven ringing in our ears and the fervent hope in our hearts that they would return soon!