BOURNEMOUTH Symphony Orchestra’s Resonate Strings is a quintet made up of members of the BSO who, as well as playing in the concert hall, perform in smaller venues, working with different audiences and leading a variety of musical activities. Their “Winter Serenade” was presented in partnership with Artsreach – one of the first events in their 2014 season – and both promoters and performers will have been delighted with the large and enthusiastic audience that turned out on such a filthy night to enjoy an evening of classical pops. Particular mention must be made of Tony Freer, the local promoter, who made sure that the event was a complete sell-out.
The musicians, each one of whom represents one of the five string sections of the BSO, were joined by Andrew Burn, BSO’s Head of Projects, who introduced the pieces, his light, anecdotal style ensuring that the music was accessible to all.
The evening began with a number of familiar pieces from the baroque period: Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”, Bach’s “Air on a G String”, a couple of movements from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and Pachelbel’s famous “Canon”. The performances were delicate, with considerable attention being given to dynamic contrast. I particularly liked the Bach with its long legato melody and pizzicato accompaniment, a feature that was also present in the largo from Vivaldi’s “Winter”, while the inner harmonies of the “Canon” were well worth focussing upon – the rich sounds of the viola coming through with great warmth. After these relatively short pieces the audience were clearly ready for something more substantial as we moved from the baroque to the classical era and Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” – another familiar piece and much enjoyed by the audience, although it has to be said there was some rather iffy intonation at times.
The second half of the evening concentrated on music from the twentieth century, and opened with two further rather longer works, Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings” and Peter Warlock’s “Capriol Suite” – highlights of the evening so far as my companion and I were concerned. Indeed, the players seemed more at ease with this more recent repertoire which was played with clarity, sensitivity and, where appropriate, considerable vigour as well.
The remainder of this well balanced programme consisted of short pieces by Holst, Scott Joplin, Prokoviev, Copland and Karl Jenkins, covering a wide variety of styles and moods, and with something guaranteed to please everyone. One hopes “Winter Serenade” will encourage at least some of the good folks of Studland and district to get on the ferry and enjoy the full BSO experience over the coming year.