Sunday, 14 August 2022

Morricone’s award-winning Mission score still shines

HENLEY’S Christ Church hosted a packed house for a family Christmas concert by the Henley Symphony Orchestra on

HENLEY’S Christ Church hosted a packed house for a family Christmas concert by the Henley Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, December 13.

Earlier that afternoon the orchestra also put on a concert of festive music for really young children, compered by Andy Baker with his dancing double bass.

The later performance was aimed at introducing slightly older children to classical music — but could be enjoyed by young and old alike.

The concert intertwined some of the best-loved orchestral excerpts from film, the theatre and ballet with Christmas favourites, as well as encouraging community singing of some of our best-loved carols.

Youngsters in the audience were invited to enjoy the experience of hearing the full symphonic forces performing dramatic, exuberant music such as Khatchaturian’s Sabre Dance, which particularly showed off the skills of the percussion and brass sections of the orchestra. By contrast, HSO oboist Jasmine Huxtable-Wright played the hauntingly beautiful solo Gabriel’s Oboe, sensitively accompanied by full orchestra. Italian composer Ennio Morricone, now 87 years old, wrote this for the 1986 film The Mission, which won him both a Golden Globe as well as the BAFTA Best Film Music award for this enduringly popular score.

While so many have become familiar with Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty music through Walt Disney’s cartoon version of the story, in Henley the youngsters in the audience could see and hear for themselves the famous harp cadenza played by the capable hands of harpist Jenny Broome.

Bassoonists Jacqui Chick and Susanna Knox also showed off their instruments in the Hall of the Mountain King movement from the Peer Gynt Suite No 1 by Grieg.

Conductor Ian Brown introduced the suite by attempting to outline the complex storyline of Ibsen’s original drama — coincidentally, this play, with its cast of more than 40 characters who exist between the realms of both fantasy and reality, has been reworked as a film on many occasions.

But while Ibsen’s masterpiece remains enigmatic, Grieg’s extraordinary music remains fresh and always appealing.

Tash Turner confidently sang solo verses in two of the carols, while the orchestra also performed Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival to complete the true seasonal experience — with a rousing performance of Sleigh Ride to end proceedings.

Deputy Mayor of Henley Julian Brookes was on hand to draw the raffle, which was in support of Henley’s YMCA appeal.

Review: Elestr Lee

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