Evaluate of Northern Chamber Orchestra with chief Nicholas Ward and soloist Craig Ogden


 


Nicholas Ward (left) and Craig Ogden

The highspot of the weekend Manchester Guitar
Competition at Chetham’s Faculty of Music was a live performance on Sunday afternoon by the
Northern Chamber Orchestra within the Stoller Corridor, that includes Craig Ogden as
soloist in each Malcolm Arnold’s Guitar Concerto and Peter Sculthorpe’s Nourlangie.

However the live performance – a repeat of 1 given in
Macclesfield Heritage Centre the night time earlier than – was essential for an additional
cause: it was the ultimate efficiency by the NCO with Nicholas Ward as chief
and creative director. Nick has been within the chief’s chair since 1984, and I’ve
adopted the fortunes of this exceptional ensemble, player-led each organizationally
and musically, all through that point. His departure is a wrench.

Nick’s whimsical and generally far-ranging
spoken introductions to the music performed of their live shows have lengthy been a welcome
a part of their particular ambiance: you understand that that is actual chamber music, performed
by pals amongst pals. His inspiring musical contribution, actually main
by instance, has additionally been one thing to savour, making the sound of the NCO one
that may fluctuate from subtlest intimacy to terribly large results. There was
one proper initially, as for this efficiency he had a strings power of
17, augmented to 27 by musicians from Chetham’s Faculty for the opening Fantasia
on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
, by Vaughan Williams – one in all three great
examples of string writing on the programme. Designed for a cathedral acoustic,
the numerous textures and sense of the previous dropped at new life have been equally
entrancing within the vivid, reflective Stoller Corridor, and this was no routine efficiency
however filled with ardour.

Percy Grainger’s setting of the Londonderry
Air (Irish Tune from County Derry, as he known as it), with a horn added to
the feel, was equally beguiling. Then we heard a particular piece for the
event: the NCO’s personal composer-player James Manson’s Bânjöeš Yètí, primarily based
on a Moldovan folks tune however utterly within the English pastoral custom in
nature, with pretty roles for solo clarinet, horn and flute – and, after all, a
violin solo.

And so to the guitar items. The Arnold
concerto needs to be heard way more usually: it’s obtained candy and wistful tunes in every
of its three actions, of the type he crafted so effectively, and the central one in all
the three is each lengthy and relatively mysterious, partly like a rating for a Hitchcock
thriller (because it’s been described), with portamento slides on the violins and the
menace of thudding bass notes – but additionally by turns energetic and eventually haunting.

Craig Ogden’s mastery of his instrument
wants no endorsement from me: his enjoying is all the time crystal-clear, super-sensitive
and delightful to hearken to. And so it was once more in Sculthorpe’s piece, which
brings on an array of percussion (thunder sheet, gong and cymbals included) to
current its ingeniously developed themes.

Lastly it was strings alone once more, for
Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro. For me it’s some of the wonderful
issues ever created, and the sound of Nick Ward and the NCO enjoying it, molto
sostenuto
and molto espressivo (because it says in direction of the top) is the
method I shall bear in mind the enriching time that his management of this orchestra
has given us.

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