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Proms Matinee 2: Lapland Chamber Orchestra/StorgÅrds review – wonderfully eclectic

August 12, 2014

Andrew Clements, theguardian.com



Based in Rovaniemi, Finland, just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra is the European Union's most northerly professional orchestra. John StorgÅrds has been its artistic director since 1996, and he brought his 30-strong band to Cadogan Hall for its Proms debut with a wonderfully eclectic programme, which began with one of CPE Bach's Hamburg symphonies, in B minor, and ended with Sibelius's Rakastava.

The last two of the Proms Saturday matinees will be 80th-birthday tributes to Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies, but the LCO also included works by them. The trumpeter HÅkan Hardenberger was the soloist in Endless Parade, which Birtwistle composed for him in 1987, setting the solo instrument off on a series of dazzling virtuoso riffs over mostly placid strings, with a glinting vibraphone bridging the harmonic gap between the two. Hardenberger has performed it more than 60 times now, but still makes it seem utterly spontaneous and capricious.

Maxwell Davies'sSinfonia, though, was much more of a rarity. It is one of a group of pieces that Davies composed in the early 1960s and was based on his study of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers, though the sound world owes more to early Stockhausen than anything else. It's a dense, occluded piece, rather austere, but its rigorous formalism seems to contain all the emotional power that would erupt in the works Davies began to compose just a few years later.

Between the two came something completely different Arthur Honegger's charming little Pastoral d'ÉtÉ, providing an opportunity to showcase the orchestra's characterful quintet of wind players. StorgÅards had begun by conducting the strings-only Bach symphony from the violin, a bracing performance more about urgency than suaveness; to end, he shaped the Sibelius suite with such naturalness that no one would have ever guessed it began life as a work for male-voice choir.

The remaining Proms Saturday matinees are on 30 August and 6 September; the Proms continue until 13 September. Details: bbc.co.uk/proms


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Source: Guardian Web


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