French horn blasts and a distinct piccolo – Review of January concert

French horn blasts and a distinct piccolo
It’s a fair way from a chilly, damp winter evening on Oxford’s High Street to perhaps a spring morning at St Mark’s Basilica, Venice. But in both churches, music was and is fundamental, even paramount in 1500s St Mark’s, since the spoken parts of the Mass would be conducted quietly at the high altar. Such a set-up allowed the music of Giovanni Gabrieli and his predecessors and successors as Principal Organist/Composer to flow on, uninterrupted. For these Canzoni, Gabrieli had at his disposal sackbuts and at least one cornetto, both soft-toned versions of trombone and trumpet respectively. Here, the Oxford Sinfonia put up five trumpets and five trombones, and despite the welcome presence, in the middle of three pieces, of a single viola, I fear the composer’s delicate polyphonic interplay was altogether crushed by the inexorable wall of brass sound thus created.

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Judith Weir blog loved our March concert

When my old college friend George Caird told me that he was planning to perform my piece Heroic Strokes of the Bow with an amateur orchestra, my initial thought was “is that wise?” Recently I had shown the score to the conductor of a good student orchestra, and after a while he closed the cover, saying sagely “Sorry,it’s too difficult. Have you got anything else?”

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Mahler review from Daily Info

Conductor David Crown was an unshowy figure with the baton, avoiding expansive gestures but attending to each section of his band and with care to the requirements of the marked tempo. There was never that feeling of rush which can be tempting for an amateur orchestra when confronted by an extended piece like this.

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