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Philharmonic celebrate 20th anniversary Gibraltar Proms

By C Wall

An arrangement of Beatles hits for a Baroque orchestra opened the Philharmonic Society’s 20th Anniversary Promenade Concert, under the sponsorship of Turicum Private Bank.

Beatles Concerto Grosso No. 4 by Peter Breiner filled the Alameda Open Air Theatre with the airy strings of The European Sinfonietta, led by violinist Domenico Pierini.

The first movement, Here Comes the Sun, straightened George Harrison’s spring song into a formal sequence, while retaining much of the warmth and the some of the time changes Harrison brought from the Indian tradition.

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Michelle started with Baroque frills on a familiar theme, but was enriched by swooning violins and jazzy riffs.

Good Night turned Lennon’s lullaby into a sleepy procession, more stately than the original but lacking the self-conscious artlessness.

Carry that Weight brought back a Corelli jolliness, though the more melancholy middle section had more than a touch of folk.

The most popular of all Mozart’s chamber compositions is a piece he referred to as “a little serenade”, known to posterity as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

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Hollywood has often used it as a shorthand for well-to-do sophistication, and the Turicum Prom presented a rather large space to fill with a little serenade.

Pierini conducted this time, and I was pleased to note that the electrical amplification was able to project the delicacy of the opening Allegro. I enjoyed the brisk tempo and graceful spirit, though some of the strings were a little leaden.

The Romanza was sweet but soothing, with some lovely vibrato. I found the Menuetto too stately, sometimes plodding, while the last movement was lively and rather joyous.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, with its programmatic description of nature in different settings, seemed even more appropriate to the Alameda.

The opening of Primavera revealed a well-drilled orchestra with full command of the material.

The Largo showed a quiet restraint, and the Allegro Pastorale a smooth dignity.

I enjoyed the languid deliberation at the start of the summer, which sharpened the relief of the stormy middle.

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The opening of L’autunno was a little too mannered, as though the shepherds had missed the harvest celebration in favour of a quiet night. L’inverno was still, perhaps lacking in tension, but moving philosophically to the end of the annual cycle.

Overall it was the slick and professional Vivaldi that matched the excellent organisation of the evening.

Encores are always welcome, though what we heard were simply repeats of the most popular movements from the Four Seasons.

More of note was nature’s visceral response to the music.

Amplification largely overcame the frog chorus that threatened the last classical concert I can remember in the Alameda, and perhaps an earlier start could have allowed the amphibians their piece.

The screaming peacocks were another matter, though they hardly detracted from a delightful musical occasion.

Pics by Marcos Moreno

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