Ten Tors Orchestra with Benjamin Frith at Plymouth's Roland Levinsky Theatre (review)

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Haydn’s Piano Concerto was originally conceived for harpsichord or fortepiano and does not regularly feature on concert programmes. However, in the sensitive hands of Benjamin Frith, pictured, the work really came to life on the piano.

Ben’s articulation and phrasing were always impeccable in rapid passage-work, but he imbued the slow movement with the exact amount of rubato, certainly not offensive to classical purists, but still sufficient to underline the sentiment of the writing.

In this he was greatly assisted both by the sympathetic accompaniment from the excellent Ten Tors Orchestra under conductor, Simon Ible, and by an instrument which was neither full size, nor overly rich in tone quality.

Two contrasting symphonies by Mozart neatly topped-and-tailed this essentially classical-period evening, where the commendably sure-footed playing from the horns made light work of the composer’s frequent high writing for the instrument.

Benjamin Bartlett’s White Haze mirrored the composer’s similarly convoluted written description, though there were some pleasantly ethereal moments along the way.

Nielsen’s Little Suite is not particularly rewarding for audience or players alike, and didn’t really show the orchestra at its best.

Despite the comfortable seating and excellent visibility, the venue’s dead acoustic still remains a thorny problem, which seems somewhat paradoxical when the building’s over-large foyer could possibly provide a far better sound stage, and an exciting space for an orchestra-in-the-round experience to boot.


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