‘An Alpine Symphony’

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Review of ‘An Alpine Symphony’

by Cambridge Philharmonic in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 8th July 2017

Cambridge Philharmonic gave a splendid concert in Ely Cathedral on Saturday. Under the baton of conductor Timothy Redmond, choir, orchestra and solo soprano Stephanie Corley, filled the Cathedral with emotive, potent, and effective sounds.

The concert opened grandly with a magnificent performance of Parry’s ‘I was Glad’. The strength and grandeur of the piece was presented beautifully.

Elgar’s ‘The Spirit of England,’ based on the First World War and its effects, followed. Poems relating to the date the war was declared, the early fervent patriotism, the affect the war had on the women and the darkness and devastation of the fallen formed the basis of the three movements. The orchestra explored Elgar’s subtle effects perfectly, often creating a constant underlying marching pulse that echoed the timelessness of the reality of war. The soprano soloist Stephanie Corley sang beautifully, adding to the drama and emotive impact of the work.

While there were subtle moments in Richard Strauss’s ‘An Alpine Symphony’, especially when the delicate alpine flowers come into view, this was a very different piece of music altogether. These amazing instrumentalists rose to the challenges of the composition and created a most effective series of vibrant images. Strauss’s colourful orchestration and compositional skill interwove recurring representative themes meaningfully, reflecting memorably the powerful grandeur of the mountain, the gentle rising of the sun, the overwhelming sense of achievement on reaching the summit of the mountain, the sudden frightening impact of thunder, lightning and heavy rain and the hasty descent.

This was indeed an excellent concert.

Cambridge Philharmonic will be performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony in Ely Cathedral on the 7th July next year.

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