Classical Nature

Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra

Theatre Severn

Sunday 26th June 2016

It is always an enlightening experience when one is introduced to local talent, groups or artists. So it was in Theatre Severn this afternoon , as Shrewsbury residents were introduced to their local Philharmonic. Might be stretching a point claiming them as our own but Birmingham is our local city.

Local or not it was a great sight  seeing them presenting three pieces inspired by Nature, Man’s interaction and relationship within it, The programme comprised the works of Dvorak, Bax and Strauss.

Firstly Dvorak; After an introduction from Conductor Richard Laing, the auditorium was filled with the most beautiful music forged from the native folk music of the composer's beloved Bohemia. The unified strings played teasingly chased by the woodwind and percussion. The imagery was remarkable as one could see the Checkoslavakian peasants dancing in their fours as wood smoke entwined with the evening air, all celebrating the end of a hard day’s toiling on the land.

There was a rural, rustic feel to this piece and the links between classical and folk have never been made any clearer. Entitled, Overture in Nature’s realm, this piece excitedly explored all that was dear to Dvorak in his native Checkoslavakia.

The orchestra worked so well, one could liken watching them play to lifting the bonnet of  a beautiful limousine to see a wonderful piece of engineering working smoothly and seamlessly together with every action breathing life into the overall effect. To watch this orchestra in full flow is simply breath taking.

The second piece spoke of Arthurian legend and the ancient county of Cornwall. Bax’s Tintagel was a thoroughly  exciting, vibrant and powerful piece. If one is aware of Tintagel, it’s mighty cliffs and unassailable castle, then one will have seen it here graphically illustrated by  the mighty orchestra.

The Atlantic was heard crashing onto the timeworn granite cliffs, the Castle stood eerily empty and the mist rolled on the cliffs as they dived steep into the white spuming waves. Those same waves were racing relentlessly along the ancient coast line. For excitement and graphic colour one could do no better than to settle down and let this wonderful orchestra paint the scene with perfect clarity.

Bax is one of England’s lesser known and lesser played composer. Famous for his poetic symphonies Tintagel is presumed to be his finest and most popular piece. It was lapped up by the crowd as they sat spellbound and transfixed to a really magical piece of music.

Thirdly and maybe most challengingly the audience was introduced to Strauss’s, Alpine Symphony. Taking the route from the babbling brooks of the Austrian valley floor the journey continues on up through the close standing sentries of the spruce trees and onto the mountainside. Taking time to catch the  clear alpine air and to feast on the panorama the music continues on up to sharpest peak of the highest alp.

This piece was considered to be the most challenging as firstly, it was the longest work of the afternoon and secondly the imagery wasn’t as vivid as the first two pieces as the  theme seemed to be neglected on several occasions leaving the mind to wonder where it might be, or was it even hearing relevant sounds.

However as the last note resounded the audience clapped and cheered at a job well done.  One can only imagine there was half a million notes played this afternoon and amazingly not a single one of them was out of place. We are lucky in the Midlands to be able to claim such wonderful musicians as our own and equally as lucky to claim this incredible Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra as very very much our local Philharmonic.

This is a four star review.

Owen J. Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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