Despite a programme of music composed in times of war, and even though the music played concentrated our minds on serious matters and the fallen in war, I was impressed and enthused by the recent Norfolk Symphony Orchestra Concert entitled The Music of War.
The programme, with firm leadership from musical director Philip Hesketh, consisted of George Butterworth’s Orchestral Rhapsody: A Shropshire Lad, which is a work in the form of an elegy, and the main theme is a meditation on one of Butterworth’s most haunting songs, The Cherry Tree.
The music was played in a suitably atmospheric way, quiet and reflective.
Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand was composed for Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his arm in the First World War.
Our pianist, the up-and-coming Nicholas McCarthy, was first class and he played the concerto with clarity and the necessary gravity and passion.
The orchestra’s contribution brought out well the contrasting moods and rhythms of the work.
The enthusiastic audience was treated to an uplifting encore, an arrangement by the pianist of Rachmaninov’s G Minor Prelude for piano – a favourite of mine.
The concluding piece, Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 “The Inextinguishable” was first performed in 1916 in Copenhagen and, like the other pieces on the programme, reflected the varying moods of war and the piece gives the orchestra’s departments a chance to shine.
Members of the NSO certainly rose to the challenge and the ‘battle’ between timpani and the rest of the orchestra toward the end of this original symphony was thrilling.
Nielsen ultimately has an optimistic view of our life force triumphing over great adversity, in my view. I look forward to hearing more performances at the next NSO concert maintaining the same high standards heard here.