BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the Swansea International Festival.

October 7, 2017 by

Karl Francis stayed close to his Welsh roots with his composition Over the Stone.

A concerto for harp and string orchestra, the music explores a variety of moods and styles in a lyrical way, providing the soloist with plenty of opportunities to demonstrate technical skill.

Commissioned by the Prince of Wales the work was a key part of the programme of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the Swansea International Festival.

In soloist Catrin Finch they had a quality performer which was particularly evident in the Cadenza where she maintained the rhythm of the work before bringing the orchestra back on board for the final movement where the composer leant towards Latin American influences to bring about the climax.

It was a wonderful performance of an extremely beautiful work.

The concert at Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall opened with a stirring performance of Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

Composed as a ballet the music is first and foremost American with many and varied influences from the American way of life. It has an energy which the orchestra captured from its quiet opening.

And they stayed with it as the music travelled into different corners of life from folk songs to life on the range with cowboys and on to its powerful climax.

The second half of the programme stayed in America with Dvorak’s glorious tribute to the country – Symphony No 9 From the New World.

In many ways an easy listening work, the music includes a feast of melodies and themes, all developed beautifully and all geared to showing respect for the music of America from a composer who brought his musical skills to a generation of young Americans but who never forgot his European home.

Conducted by Tecwyn Evans, the orchestra was totally absorbed in the rhythm of the work and enthusiastic in the more dramatic moments. Their commitment to the climax was particularly impressive.

An outstanding concert with a wonderfully balanced programme and a performance from a fine orchestra which was to be relished.


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