Wednesday 01 February, 2012

Nottingham Youth Orchestra Concert
February 2012

Nottingham Youth Orchestra's concert on 16 April 2005 , in Southwell Minster, included Whitlock's Symphony in G minor for organ and orchestra. William Ruff ( Nottingham Evening Post ) wrote the following critique: 

The NYO's taste for adventure shows no signs of fading. Every year, its members are not only invited to show off their talent and commitment by playing the familiar classics of the repertoire but to stride off down unfamiliar routes as well. 

This time it was the turn of English composer Percy Whitlock to be dusted off and given an airing. His Organ Symphony (written 1936-7) is a rarity which calls for virtuosity from soloist and orchestra alike. Organist John Keys coaxed an alluring range of tonal colour from the Minister's instrument – matched by full-blooded playing from his youthful colleagues and their conductor Derek Williams. But was the piece worth reviving? My own opinion: Whitlock was essentially a miniaturist whose ‘symphony' might have sounded more coherent if it had been half the length. 

We were on much firmer ground with Malcolm Arnold's richly colourful English Dances (lots of strong contrasts: rhythmic bounce and yearning nostalgia in quick succession) and with Elgar's Enigma Variations , Elgar demands tight discipline and draws on a huge palette of sounds as the music captures widely disparate characters. The NYO had all the flexibility one could ask for – as well as reserving extra energy for the ebullient finale. 

Coates's Knightsbridge March came as a very jolly (and welcome) encore .