The Scarborough Symphony Orchestra hit all the right notes with its first concert of the new season.
Two of the three pieces played are among the most popular in the classical repertoire, the orchestra under Shaun Matthew was first-rate, and the soloist, the pianist Yuki Negishi, was exceptional.
The evening began with Nielsen’s Imaginary Journey to the Faroe Islands: written by Denmark’s foremost composer as a tribute to the music of the Danish Faroes, it proved to be an attractive and imaginative piece, well-suited to be an overture to Grieg’s well-known (and only) Piano Concerto.
On a splendid Steinway, hired for the occasion, Yuki gave a spirited account of the work, full of virtuosic fireworks.
The capacity audience gave her a well-deserved ovation.
After the interval came Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Taken by Shaun at a very brisk pace, all movements took on a new light; the first and last movements were positively aggressive, perhaps reflecting the anguished suffering of black America, epitomised by the Spirituals Dvorak heard while he was in America.
All sections of the orchestra were impressive: the woodwind as always excelled, the prominent role of the brass gave them a chance to shine, and the strings tackled their challenging parts confidently and ably.
The orchestra’s decision to offer fewer concerts each season (four rather than six) in order to allow more weeks of rehearsal for each one has proved very worthwhile.
Shaun demands the highest standards of them, and under his baton the orchestra continues to grow in stature; he is to be congratulated not only on this concert but also on his appointment to the distinguished Chineke! Orchestra, whom he conducted (in the same week) in Southampton, Bristol and Cambridge.
Chineke! means ‘fantastic’, and we wish him all the best in his new additional role.