Chausson Symphony in B flat

On Saturday 18 February a large audience enjoyed a varied and unusual programme presented by the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society under their conductor, Matthew Willis.

First were the Nocturnes I and II by Debussy. The first, entitled Nuages (Clouds) was atmospheric – the Philharmonic clearly demonstrated that they knew how to play a pianissimo that was most effective. We experienced some fine visual scene painting, lulled by a gentle, rocking motion on woodwind and muted strings, with the harp ably played by Anna Wynne. The second Nocturne, entitled Fetes, was very much in the spirit of a carnival or a procession, the score marked animé et très rythmé – and the orchestra played exactly that.

The second and very different piece to the played was the virtuosic Trumpet Concerto by Arutiunian, and we were given a stunning performance by 21 year old Matilda Lloyd from Sevenoaks. This piece involves some exciting dance-like rhythms of an eastern European nature; the soloist has to use some rapid-tonguing at times. There was a lovely contrasting cantabile interlude section in the middle, using muted trumpet and with jazz-like melodies. This was the orchestra’s first concert in St Peter and St Paul’s Church and the acoustics were ideally suited to show Matilda’s fine tone and command of the instrument. Throughout, the orchestra’s accompaniment was impressive, and I felt that they really entered into the spirit of the music – no mean feat.

After the interval, the orchestra played the Symphony in Bflat by Ernest Chausson, a work that was unfamiliar to many of us in the audience. This was sensitively played – it is quite a dark piece on the whole, although there is a slightly more optimistic mood in the second movement. There is a tempestuous section for strings and woodwind, and here the cellos’ brooding tone came to the fore and the strings were well together. The brass section had a short chorale, before a return of the first movement stealing in and fading away, achieved to great effect.

The whole made for a very entertaining and enjoyable evening and I, for one, was grateful to be introduced to these lesser-known works – we are fortunate to have such an orchestra who can do so.

Sarah Gough