Ian C Douglas reviews the London Sinfonia at the Royal Concert Hall…
This is the Sinfonia of London’s first live tour since winning, not one, not two, but three BBC Music Magazine Awards. So how did they do on the night?
In a word: awesome. The programme kicked off with Walton’s Scapino, then Ravel’s Valse nobles et sentimentales, before building to the act one climax with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. For this world-famous work, British pianist Martin James Bartlett came on stage to tinkle the ivories. And he was brilliant! With an expertise that belies his youthful appearance, Mr Bartlett coaxed that wonderful melody from his piano with a playful glee that was a delight to watch. The audience could scarcely refrain from tapping toes and swaying heads.
After the intermission, the Sinfonia treated us to Debussy’s La Mer. The rendition was superb. No doubt many in the auditorium were transported to an inner fantasy of aquamarine seas full of rainbow coloured fish all swimming in formation. The piece de resistance turned out to be Ravel’s Bolero. Another iconic work, one that Nottingham folk know almost by heart thanks, of course, to a certain duo of Olympic skaters. Tonight’s version was the original score, not the ballet, and came complete with castanets and extra drums. The audience loved it.
The audience could scarcely refrain from tapping toes and swaying heads.
Conductor John Wilson presided over events from the podium, and very much made concertgoers feel at home with his warm and friendly introductions. He can boast an international reputation and it was this success that led onto him re-launching the Sinfonia of London in 2018. He must be doing a good job as the Guardian described the Sinfonia’s Proms debut in 2021 as outstanding. A word that would not go amiss on this occasion too.
When the Bolero came to its stirring finale, the audience was ecstatic. Standing ovations broke out throughout the stalls and galleries. Let’s hope it is not too long before the Sinfonia of London graces Nottingham’s Concert Hall once more.
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