Rehearsing in Stanton Harcourt, Near Witney, Oxfordshire
July 1st 2022
What a delight to be listening again to live performances from the Freeland Orchestra
and West Oxfordshire Winds, under Wendy's thoughtful and energetic leadership.
To open the evening, we were transported to the continent with a lively performance
of Gounod's Scherzo and Trio (from Symphony No.1), lyrical passages interspersed
with punchy staccato from the strings, the dialogue between wind and string sections
suggestive of a tea dance (and allowing the oboe to shine). The Allegro from the
same symphony followed this toe-tapping introduction, the opening staccato bars catching
our attention before the main theme allowed different instruments to shine, and providing
a glorious and entertaining climax.
This was followed by Ronald Binge's Elizabethan Serenade (fitting for this platinum
jubilee year), the bright sound of the woodwind shining above the warmth of the strings
as the orchestra rocked the audience with the swinging rhythms of this piece.
The swinging motif continued with Gershwin's depiction of An American in Paris and
the addition of drums, saxophones and bass clarinet to the orchestra. Intended by
Gershwin as a 'light jolly piece', the performance showed us various moods of the
title character: a jolly swagger in Paris through busy streets with car horns and
the sound of hurrying trains contrasting with the contemplative passages suggestive
of the character's longing for home. We could 'see' him stopping and setting off
again through Paris as we enjoyed Gershwin's trade mark harmonies. These scenes really
came to life in this atmospheric rendition.