Concert Review : Royal Northern Sinfonia

Words: Ian C Douglas
Wednesday 21 February 2024
reading time: min, words

The Royal Northern Sinfonia plays at the Royal Concert Hall... 

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The Royal Northern Sinfonia was in town last night. And judging from the packed auditorium, they were keenly expected. But if like this critic, they are new to you, here’s a slice of back story. Royal Northern Sinfonia is the orchestra of the North East and Cumbria, and lives at The Glasshouse in Gateshead. It is Britain’s only full-time chamber orchestra with nearly forty musicians dedicated to classical music old and new.

The Sinfonia’s first concert was in 1958. Since then, they have built up an international reputation, representing the North East on a worldwide stage. In 2023, they headlined the first ever weekend-long BBC Proms outside of London, and even travelled to South Korea for an International Music Festival. Kimchi and classical, perhaps?

But how did they do back in Nottingham on a drizzly winter evening?

The orchestra began with Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A. The company was joined on stage by guest clarinettist Julian Bliss. One of our greatest players of the clarinet, he is a former prodigy who turned professional at the age of 12. Amazing! And he proceeded to lead the orchestra through the symphony with aplomb. A rendition that went down very well with the concertgoers. 

a former prodigy who turned professional at the age of 12

Next came Beethoven’s Symphony No 3. Also known as the Eroica symphony of 1805. The composition is regarded widely as innovating the symphonic form such as in terms of length, harmony, and cultural content. Therefore, it can be seen as a highlight in the evolution of the Classical era into the Romantic.

Last came Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1. In D Major. To quote from the playbook, “this compact modern classic is full of Haydnesque touches but with Prokofiev’s trademark rhythmic and harmonic edge.”

Our conductor for the evening, by the way, was Dinis Sousa. An acclaimed conductor and still in his thirties, he has held this position for 3 years and notched up plenty of high-profile performances and appeared at the BBC Proms twice.

 All three of the selected works were pleasing without being particularly dramatic. This made for a relaxing and soothing night-out and clearly the audience enjoyed themselves thoroughly

The Royal Northern Sinfonia played at the Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday, February 20th 2024.  

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