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London Schools Symphony Orchestra 2002-2015
Artistic Director - Peter Ash
Barbican Programmes and Reviews
LSSO Barbican Programmes and Reviews
7 January 2015
Nielsen Helios Overture
Grieg Piano Concerto
Rachmaninov Symphony No 2
Conductor Edward Gardner
Piano Louis Schwizgebel
Gardner’s conducting was magnificent interpretatively, from first to last, and once again he showed us
what a rare talent he is. He captured the work’s (Rachmaninov) underlying Russian melancholy to perfection; its excursions into slightly unconvincing higher spirits during the opening movement, its descent into quiet resignation for the Adagio, and its brave attempt at cheerful resolution in the finale… It will have been a tremendous experience for these young people to play under such a conductor as Edward Gardner, and he is much to be commended for taking time to work, as he does, with this and other youth ensembles. The Classical Source 8 January 2015 14 April 2015 Liszt Orpheus Mozart Concerto fro Two Pianos Mendelssohn Symphony No 3 ‘Scottish’ Conductor Carlos Izcaray Pianists Maria João Pires and Julien Libeer 22 September 2015 Chabrier España Schumann Konzertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique Conductor Peter Ash Horns Richard Watkins, Nigel Black, Katy Woolley and Michael Thompson …Chabrier’s España was a good choice for an opener: it’s music that even listeners unfamiliar with classical music to any degree will know (or, at least, know one or two of the great tunes in which it abounds) and the work has the capacity to show-off an orchestra in many solos, section-led passages and tutti. From the opening bars, Peter Ash’s tempos were well-nigh perfectly judged, enabling his keen and sensitive players to give of their best and delivering a performance tingling with life and vitality. On paper, one might have thought Robert Schumann’s Konzertstück for four horns an odd choice for an orchestra of young players, for it is not a work that immediately discloses its qualities… It was not, for Schumann’s Opus 86 is a rare Concerto not just in instrumentation: the orchestra has a great deal to do, too, and much of the writing is demanding – genuinely participating in the musical argument. …Quite apart from anything else, this performance was quite superb – and not just from the distinguished soloists. The balance in this difficult work was truly excellent, and Ash’s control of this unique score was exemplary. To conclude this Barbican programme Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique received a performance that was deeply impressive. As may be imagined, in the second movement the six harps came truly into their own – Berlioz, we may be sure, would have thoroughly approved, as he would of Ash’s reading: once again, the gifted conductor’s finely judged tempos, excellent balance and brilliant characterisation, aided by woodwind solos of considerable musicianship, and a full, rich tutti that blended the brilliance of each section of this admirable orchestra in compelling fashion. Thus ended an uplifting concert that those taking part and the large audience will remember for a long time.
The Classical Source 23 September 2015 LSSO Barbican Programmes and Reviews 7 January 2014 Barber Second Essay for Orchestra Efrain Oscher ‘Mestizo’ Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (UK premiere) Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5 Conductor Carlos Izcaray Trumpet Pacho Flores...It was in the Tchaikovsky that the LSSO truly excelled, opportunities taken for grand gestures and poignant solos... The perfectly shaped and nuanced horn solo opened the second movement with sensitivity and tenderness, the first bassoon was unfailingly poised and the clarinet soloist provided a beautiful tone and highly-musical playing. More than this though was the sheer energy, enthusiasm and exuberance of players for whom this music is still a discovery and exploration.
The Classical Source 7 January 2014 29 April 2014 Dukas The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Ravel Piano Concerto in G major Ravel L’enfant et les Sortileges (concert performance with English surtitles) Conductor Dominic Wheeler Piano Tom Poster With singers from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama One cannot fail to be impressed by the concerts that the London Schools Symphony Orchestra, under the aegis of the Centre for Young Musicians and the City of London Corporation, puts on these days.
As its name suggests, with players of a young age, it nevertheless produces performances of topquality, as here. Sure, with further experience will come greater security and interpretative risk, but the quality of the LSSO’s sound matches some professional orchestras. The concert was well attended too, despite the tube strike.
It’s impossible to consider Paul Dukas’s take on Goethe without thinking of Walt Disney’s Fantasia with Mickey Mouse getting up to all sorts of mischief, and it does seem that lots of our furry friend's exploits get caught in the musical offering. Dominic Wheeler plotted a careful route through this prickly piece, and got his charges to spring their way along – the work’s brilliance extolled, and the punchy bassoon of principal Juliet Webb made a memorable mark against pizzicato strings.
Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto was a treat from Tom Poster, who gave an incredibly satisfying account of this wonderful work. He revelled in the jazz elements, bringing them off with flair and vitality. It was an exciting account of the solo part, and he was the ideal counter for the exoticism and languid world of the slow movement. A rather too strict tempo was adhered too for the finale.
Nevertheless, there was fun and flow as a whole, with the inner movement beautifully played by everyone.
Ravel’s witty, strange, compact and dazzlingly realised score to a charming libretto by Colette for L'Enfant et les sortileges proved a great vehicle for everyone taking part (the soloists from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama), as well as the lighting department of the Barbican Centre and the designers, for this semi-staged presentation. It was all done simply and effectively: singers in suggestive costumes or holding painted pictures of whichever character they were portraying; and lighting changed to suggest mood or to spot-light singers. The opera itself is a touching work, a child’s temper-tantrum turned against him by his maths homework, the pet cat, the tea-cup, and many other rich and wonderful creations...
Catherine Backhouse was every inch the petulant youngster, and she matched this with her up-front voice. Rick Zwart made much of Armchair, and also ear-catching was Piran Legg as a sturdy Grandfather Clock or a sly Tom Cat. Indeed, the singers brought enjoyment to their characters, and invested in them well. The meowing moggies were a delight. The orchestral playing matched the singers and made an enjoyable outing for this sometime surreal opera. There was swing, beauty, security, and a dash of pathos thrown in, justice done to this eclectic work.
The Classical Source 29 April 2014 22 September 2014 Wagner Prelude to ‘Die Meistersinger’ Glière Concerto for Harp and Orchestra in E flat major Strauss Don Quixote Conductor Peter Ash Harp Juliana Myslov Cello Mats Lidström The original programme for this concert was to include the American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton.
Following her withdrawal, the talented Russian harpist Juliana Myslov, a current member of the LSSO, who appeared in the 2014 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition and in the same period last spring, at the age of 17, won the Dutch International Harp Competition, stepped in.
Despite her youth, Juliana Myslov is already a fully mature musician. Glière’s Harp Concerto is a substantial, three-movement work of around 25 minutes’ duration. Myslov played it quite superbly, from memory – no insignificant feat on her part. Her musicianship and artistry were outstanding. The orchestral partnership from her colleagues was excellent, revealing the work to be more than well worth hearing occasionally – and this was an occasion. Her playing of the long first movement cadenza
was wholly compelling, and her revelation of the finale’s melodious second subject was most winning:
a truly fine performance.
The Mastersingers Prelude opened the evening:...in this performance one could readily admire the commitment and musicality of each player. Peter Ash’s tempos were first-class,...the essence of this indestructible masterpiece was laid out for us with dedication and genuinely adept musicianship from all.
Don Quixote could have been a difficult choice for the orchestra, but the musicians would have learned much from studying this unique masterwork from the inside, so to speak, and if Strauss’s virtuoso writing stretched the young players, the audience was held throughout by Peter Ash’s commanding control and insight.... aided by the LSSO’s principal viola, Joanna Patrick, whose playing of the important Sancho Panza role was outstanding – she is clearly another star in the making. The lessscaled solo violin passages were equally masterfully played by the LSSO’s leader, Filip Ćwiżewicz – he is also a fine young player. This concert of dedicated music-making by gifted young Londoners proved a real tonic – with no musician being too dominant!
9 January 2013 J. Strauss Jr. The Bat Overture H.K. Gruber Frankenstein!!
Stravinsky Circus Polka: For a Young Elephant J. Strauss Sr. Radetzky March Schwertsik With Giant Boots Stravinsky Firebird Suite (1919) Conductor and Chansonnier H.K. Gruber
15 April 2013 Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 1 Mahler Symphony No 4 Conductor Steuart Bedford Cello Mats Lidström Soprano Charmian Bedford
....this performance (Strauss) was wholly admirable and at times moving and most exciting. In these latter regards, no praise is too high for the inspiring control of the conductor on this occasion. Peter Ash certainly had the measure of this great work, manifestly inspiring the players to give more than their best, individually and throughout each section of the orchestra. Timpani and percussion, especially, were astonishingly good, reinforcing and blending with the rest of the orchestra excellently - as, indeed, did the unseen offstage brass......in terms of application, commitment and genuine musicianship, as well as evincing a total belief in the score, this was a performance (Strauss) that would have earned the composer’s enthusiastic endorsement. The result was deeply impressive on many levels - no praise could be too high for the musician’s dedication, or for Peter Ash’s control of his vast (circa 120-strong) orchestra.
The Classical Source 25 September 2013 LSSO Barbican Programmes and Reviews 4 January 2012 Ginastera Estancia Ballet Suite Korngold Violin Concerto Castellanos Santa Cruz de Pacairigua Gershwin An American in Paris Conductor Carlos Izcaray Violin Marthew Trusler The LSSO is seriously good, with a well-defined sense of corporate discipline. It represents musical education in the capital extremely well... What distinguished this concert was not just the exuberance of the playing or the charisma of Venezualan conductor Carlos Izcaray, making his UK debut, but the astute choice of programme...Capitalising on Izcaray’s roots, the LSSO opted for a lively selection of music from the Americas that was as much fun to hear as it evidently was to play. It showcased the orchestra’s extrovert energy and sense of balance...Whenever rhythmic precision or communal selfexpression was needed, the LSSO proved the equal of any youth orchestra...
Financial Times 5 January 2012 Ginastera’s Estancia is right out of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra encore book, and the LSSO had the right conductor to propel it like a stampede across the pampas - the whippy young Venezualan Carlos Izcaray. He also encouraged fierce, joyous playing in Evencio Castellanos’ Santa Cruz de Pacairigua.
And I admired the care with which these teenagers accompanied Matthew Trusler in Korngold’s sumptuous Violin Concerto. One feels a surge of optimism when tomorrow’s musicians show empathy towards such varied repertoire. The Times 9 January 2012 18 April 2012 Elgar Cockaigne Overture Stravinsky Fireworks Rameau Suite from Les Boreades Handel Royal Fireworks Music Ravel Daphnis and Chloé Suite No 2 Conductor Nicholas Kraemer