It was a damp cold dark night on Saturday 30th November. Advent was heralded by the
festive feeling in the church with its evergreen garlands. Looking around the packed
church you could tell we were in for an interesting evening of ensemble from a wide
range of players from across West Oxfordshire. Young and old, novice and experienced
come together once again to create a showcase for the community and to display their
enthusiasm for music making.
Wendy Marks the conductor and coach brings an authoritative knowledgeable manner
to the proceedings as she introduces first the Freeland Orchestra, saying – honestly
– she never expected this orchestra to master a work by Bruckner. But they did, and
well. His overture that opened the programme had some lovely lyrical phrasing from
the strings, especially in the challenging chromatic passages in the cello section.
The horns did not disappoint – such favourite instruments with this composer. Their
tone and antiphonal work with the lower strings were sonorous and effective. Likewise
the trumpet in its ensemble with the bassoon. Just a note of caution, however, as
long sustained phrases in the woodwind need really careful listening to check their
Then followed a little gem of a piece, and a really good choice for the orchestra
to excel, Kalinnikov’s Interlude No. 2. The dance-like liveliness with its hints
of folk music from the Steppes reminded us of Tchaikovsky. The strings sparkled,
the oboe solo soared and the trombone gave an assured foundation. The upper strings
seemed very much at ease - even though depleted in number because of illness - especially
in their beautifully phrased middle section. The whole had a strong sense of ensemble
and rhythmic accuracy.
The orchestra ended their section of the evening with two tangos. Again the cellos
were champions, especially in their rhythmic pizzicato, and the horns should feel
proud of their well tuned lovely legato playing, both in El Choclo and also in La
Comparsita, where the drama was ensured by the strong drumming.