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Grace Heaversedge reviews the Oxford University Philharmonia (OUPhil) concert which took place in the Sheldonian on Wednesday 27th November

Filled with avid concert-goers and those sheltering from a dreary November night, the Sheldonian Theatre was buzzing with excitement and and anticipation. The audience were ready to be taken on a whistle-stop tour around Switzerland, Finland, and Bohemia, by Charlotte Corderoy, a truly inspiring conductor with an incredible magnetism and stage-presence. Our first stop was Switzerland, with Rossini’s William Tell Overture, a bold work to start with. However, the pressure was not felt by Harry Morgan as he glided through the opening cello solo, with flexible rubato and expression, but also with intonation of steel. There was little time to settle into the sunny atmosphere depicted, as we were interrupted by guttural bass trombone, heralding the storm and war. Familiarity was reached by the trumpet fanfare introduction, well-known from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The strings in the allegro vivace section led us swiftly to an emphatic cymbal crash, upheld victoriously throughout the applause. An eerie contrast was brought on by Sibelius’ Valse Triste. Though a short piece, the raw emotion experienced by Paavali in her fever ridden hallucination was vividly portrayed by the opening of muted strings and indistinct harmonies, juxtaposed with the sour, creepy danse macabre. A densely emotive performance. Finally we were transported into the life of the Bodeceian character, Šárka. The Maiden warrior’s vengeance was beautifully foreshadowed by the brilliant Isobel Sanders, playing the well-known clarinet solo. Any man would be a fool to be involved in the vehement bloodbath conveyed by all members of OUPhil. The second half of the concert was devoted to Dvorak’s Symphony No.8, an incredibly taxing work. Blissful harmonies melted into one another in the first movement, followed by the lyrical violin solo in the second movement, which was performed perfectly by Rose Hodgson. A turbulent third movement demonstrated OUPhil’s endless source of energy, and the flute solo in the final movement highlighted the virtuosic nature of this work, full of an expansive range of moods and colours.

Players of the evening: Harry Morgan – Cello; Rose Hodgson – Violin; Isobel Sanders – Clarinet; Beth Dingley – Flute; Finlay Dove – Trumpet.


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