Review: Fretful Federation, Lewes, 9 October

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Review: Fretful Federation, Lewes, 9 October

Postby southcoastsounds » Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:01 am

I Just thought I'd post some notes of the concert last night.

Lewes All Saints Centre turned out to be quite a good venue, allowing everyone to get a good view, and the acoustics were quite good. Initially I was a bit surprised at the fairly low volume of the orchestra but eventually my ears adjusted and it seemed loud enough by the second half.

The concert opened nicely with two folk dances by Australian Robert Schulz.

Overture by Konrad Walki, a complex and demanding piece, very well played, perhaps a little long for this place in the programme.

Amazing Grace - difficult to get the right sustain on a slow tune like this, but it worked well. Possibly the tune is a little too well known for it to have much impact?

Smitten, by John Goodwin really good, as was Old English Garden by Eileen Pakenham on which Ian Harris did an excellent bird song imitiation!

Then the main piece (for me at least), Vivaldi Concerto in G major, in which Ian Harris soloed with considerable panache and style. Excellent playing and a real bravura performance. I was surprised the orchestra were able to keep up with him (but they did!) on this challenging piece.

After the intermission, Lindsay Stoner introduced the Mango Trio who played three very nice folky pieces. Bonny at Mornm two Irish tunes, and then the Skye Boat Song. I think the Mango trio demostrated the benefits of a smaller ensemble where you can hear each individual instrument so clearly (not decrying the larger orchestra sound of course!). Lindsay's lovely bowl back mandola looked and sounded very nice. The Mango Trio produced a sound which was gentle and "tinkling", a bit like a hammered dulcimer or a Celtic harp.

Then Ian Harris led a quartet versino of Marucelli's Valtzer Fantastica - a sparkling piece which he played as before with panache and style. If I'd stayed on to chat I'd have asked about his fibre glass backed mandolin - an unsusual choce for a solist perhaps?

The rest of the concert was a variety of shorter but very entertaining pieces, with Ian on typewriter and musical saw - the saw being remarkably effective on Santa Lucia - who would have believed it could be played so well???

Finally, Song of a Japanese Autumn, conducted by Lindsay Stoner, a haunting and beautiful piece, inducing a state of meditation in my companion (or so he reported afterwards!). Chris Slack played a lovely solo on his beautiful carved-top Richard Osborne mando - the tone of this high quality instrument really coming out.

My only slight criticism about the programme is perhaps the Wolki Overture which is a bit long and complex for its early stage in the concert. Personally I'd put the excellent Japanese Autumn earlier and perhaps drop the Wolki.

I have never seen FF before and was very impressed and would highly recommend them. Ian is a masterful leader, and his personality is stamped on the band - this is no bad thing because he has a good stage presence and adds a lot of interest with his confident and flamboyant playing. So often with amateur bands, the hesitant and under-confident presentation detracts from what would be a reasonable performance, but Ian carries the audience along with him and give an air of professionalism to the orchestra.

I see that many of the pieces mentioned above had now been placed on YouTube www.youtube.com/user/embergher from an earlier concert in this series. What a treat to be able to revisit them online after hearing them live.

Tom C
southcoastsounds
 
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