It was nice to receive a review of our recent concert from Andrew Calow (whose incredibly useful Website has now unfortunately closed down). Here it is.
For once it seemed that word had got through to the public of Sheffield that the SPO under EwaStrusinska were a force to be reckoned with. I write were, because Ewa has now moved on leaving behind an orchestra in far better shape and self belief than the one she found back in 2007. Certainly, I don’t think I’ve seen St Mark’s so full for an SPO concert. Some might attribute this to the presence ofthe violin soloist Keith Ramsell returning to his former haunts and bringing along some of his family. Others were drawn by the sad fact that this was Ewa’s final concert with the SPO. The concert opened with the Outdoor Overture by Aaron Copland. (Since this piece will also be played in the Botanical Gardens concert on July 3rd, I will refrain from commenting.) This was followed by one of the giants of the violin concerto repertoire, the concerto by Khachaturian, played by the work’s first British player Keith Ramsell. It was a performance to enjoy with measured accompaniment showing off the not inconsiderable violin part. Certainly Keith Ramsell enjoyed himself, even playing a Bach piece as an encore.
After the interval we had a brief excursion into music of the 19th Century with Elgar’s Salut d’amour before returning to the 20th Century for that composer’s Sospiri written to mark the loss of a dear friend – highly appropriate under the circumstances.
The final work in the concert was Respighi’s Pines of Rome.In the quieter passages Ewa brought in a lightness of touch giving delicate subtlety to the work with Roberto Meoni’s clarinet prominent. The work closes with a vivid depiction of a Roman General bringing his legion home after a tour of duty taming the provincial barbarian hordes. The orchestra achieved such a level of volume that some feared for the fabric of the building (it’s no wonder so many Roman buildings are in ruins). Special mention must be made of the brass section, but here was an orchestra playing its heart out for a much loved conductor.
It was a highly emotional night. We wish Ewa and Pawel all the best for the future. To close the Roman theme:
Illa venit, vidit, vicit.
She came, she saw, she conquered..