Beethoven – Overture: ‘Coriolan’
Mozart – ‘Exsultate, Jubilate’: soprano Caroline Walshaw
Mozart – Concerto for Flute and Harp: Flute Alison Aries, Harp Anna Wynne
Beethoven – Symphony No. 2 in D major
The orchestra of the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society was back in St Stephen’s Church in Tonbridge for this well-structured programme of late classical works by Mozart and Beethoven. The refurbished space in the church is a marvellous venue, where the sound can shine but without so great an echo that all detail is lost. It is attention to detail that is paramount in works of this period.
The concert, conducted by Michael Hitchcock, opened with Beethoven’s popular Overture ‘Coriolan’ written for a performance of a play in 1807. It is by no means an easy ride as the elements of pride, betrayal and conflicting emotions are intricately tied together. After a slightly nervy start, the orchestra gave a good account of the shifting tensions.
Local soprano, Caroline Walshaw, joined the orchestra for Mozart’s much-loved concert aria ‘Exsultate, jubilate’, originally written for the celebrated Roman castrato singer, Venanzio Rauzzini, in 1772. Caroline performed with a calm and assured mien throughout, showing her experience in handling the bravura sections.
Principal TPS flautist, Alison Aries, and regular TPS harp soloist, Anna Wynne, closed the first half of the concert with the Concerto for Flute and Harp by Mozart. Aged 22, Mozart famously disliked the flute, was not keen on the harp and despised the then fashionable salon music, churned out by the mile to give the well-to-do audiences something to be seen at. However, he liked lucrative commissions more and has left us a more than decent body of flute works, of which this is the most popular. It brims with good tunes and plays on the delicacy of both instruments very well indeed. The orchestra showed its credentials as an accompanying orchestra (it regularly plays for its choral sister in the organisation) allowing the interplay of the two softly-spoken solo voices to be heard.
The final piece was Beethoven’s masterful early Symphony in D major written in 1802. He was taking music forward into the romantic styles of the 19th century and introducing ideas and methods not heard before. It requires a more muscular approach and the orchestra and conductor proved themselves equal to this, engaging the audience through the developing movements and the dramatic sweep of the 4-movement whole. It was as if, their duties to the soloists done, the orchestra could now let itself go and enjoy itself. The audience certainly did, giving lengthy and enthusiastic applause for a job well done.