The BBC National Orchestra of Wales recently performed in Aberystwyth, Bangor, Wrexham and Llandudno as part of their tour to mid and north Wales. Here, Laura Sinnerton continues her tour diary - exploring what life is like on the road with the orchestra.
Our programme of Romantic classics got its first outing at Glyndŵr University in Wrexham. We opened with the Love Scene from Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, followed by Bruch’s ever popular Violin Concerto No 1 in G Minor and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade.
Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette is perhaps often overlooked in favour of the likes of Prokofiev’s more cinematic score for Shakespeare’s story of doomed love, or Tchaikovsky’s sentimental Fantasy Overture on the same theme.
The Love Scene is a beautiful, rather understated movement, depicting the silent, deserted Capulet garden, and the young lovers’ tender, innocent declarations of love and affection. My favourite movement from the work, however, is the Queen Mab Scherzo.
Chloë Hanslip was our soloist for the Bruch, and it was lovely to hear someone really ‘go’ for this concerto. She plays it with such a great deal of fire and commitment, which is much more interesting than some of the insipid, too sentimental renditions you can hear of this perhaps overly familiar work.
Sheherazade is one of those works that perfectly demonstrates what a master orchestrator Rimsky-Korsakov was. The opening motif, represents the Sultan, and the violin solo, Sheherazade herself as she spins her tales in order to extend her life.
I think the opening movement is the most evocative of the four, with the heaving seas heard in the undulating lines of the lower strings and brass - one can really imagine Sinbad’s ship heading off on an adventure.
Remarkably, the next day dawned bright and sunny - isn’t it amazing how just a little sun lifts your spirits? - and as a number of us had been staying in a house in Llandudno for the entirety of the tour, it was only a quick walk down the road to our final venue at Venue Cymru Theatre.
BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Venue Cymru. Image: Betina Skovbro
Weather-wise, this was the coldest, wettest, most miserable north Wales tour, but the audiences at each venue made it completely worthwhile.
Many thanks to the wonderful audiences who braved the weather to come out and hear the orchestra play. It is always preferable to play to full houses, and your support brought much warmth and cheer to the tour. Also, many thanks to all the lovely venues who provided us with hot teas and coffees - it really was very much appreciated!
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales’ next concert takes place on Tuesday 25 February 2014 at BBC Hoddinott Hall. For tickets call 0800 052 1812.