Review Royal Welsh College Symphony Orchestra, Rivers of Life, St David’s Hall by James Ellis

Photo credit: Kirsten McTernan

An evening of water as the life blood of the city and the world from the Royal Welsh College, Sympony Orchestra in a lovely programme. First was Elizabeth Maconchy and her Coronation Overture: Proud Thames, with mood of Walton and other English composers was heard anew here. It had that easily percecbale sound you get from over the border, it was full of chest puffing brass and percussion. Quite lovely really.

Gershwin’s An American in Paris Suite is a delightful venture, evoking the imagery of Gene Kelly and the extravagant ballet sequence from the classic film. Jazzy and brilliant, we get tuned car horns, ear worm after ear worm and a never ending passion for this fusion of great music. Staggering how much of this would go on to impact upon later musicals. It’s the American thrill of the whole thing, conductor David Jones drinking it in, sharing the fun with the students.

Vltava by Smetana flowed through, another glorious and popular choice. It never loses its appeal, the fine orchestration and melody making brings smiles all round. The rhythmic whirling of the notes easily evokes water and the brass bring larger scenes to life. The wedding and other tableaux are also noteworthy, the strings shine here, not to mention the opening. Wrapping up with Respighi’s Pines of Rome remained a vivid panorama of the city through time. The horn solo, the enthralling opening, the recorded nightingale audio and the powerful Roman legion finale, appear unforgettable. More of Respighi should be known, though this piece gets a lot of love.

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