Manchester Camerata
Blackburn Classics at King Georges Hall
24th of November


The Manchester Camerata are a world renowned chamber orchestra that have providing us with beautiful and sometimes challenging music for 40 years and for nearly 30 of those years, starting at performances in All Saints Church at Habergham in Burnley, I have been attending their concerts and for over 20 years I have been reviewing their concerts periodically. So it was with some history that I was once again able to review this concert, which gave me so much pleasure.

I cannot image a better way to spend a wintry Sunday afternoon than the one I spent at King George's Hall in Blackburn. Under the baton of the excellent Hungarian conductor Gabor Takacs-Nagy, the chamber orchestra filled every nook and cranny of this acoustically fabulous venue with delightful sound.

They performed three works - Beethoven's Rondino in E Flat; Dvorak's Serenade for winds Opus 44, and Mozart's Serenade no 10 for 13 wind instruments Grand Partita. The wind instruments were later supplemented by a double bass and cello which added depth to the music.

Having no conductor for the first piece gave the audience a feel of what it must have been like when the music was first performed at the court of the Elector of Cologne during his banquets, which opened with a light and lively tune leading the audience into the music

Dvorak's Serenade is oboe led and Rachael Clegg supplemented by Ruth Contractor gave a fine performance from the martial first movement with its intimations of the Austro Hungarian court morphing into the sound of woods filled with birdsong. Stately dancing rhythms become pastoral and rather jazzy in the oboe line which then became more menacing, building up tension until the fifth movement returns to the martial theme of the opening but more beautifully melodic and haunting

I am afraid the Mozart was too subtle for me. It seemed one of those works where performing it was more interesting than merely sitting and listening to it. It is quite soporific and I drifted off into my own thoughts as I was so relaxed by it. I have never heard this work before and whilst I was entranced by the orchestra's interpretation, I was somewhat disengaged

This was a smooth and sophisticated concert, full of nuance and subtlety which delighted the audience and a fine performance from the excellent Rachael Clegg who, for me, was the lynchpin of the concert


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