Reviewed by Andrew Buchanan-Smart

Reproduced with permission.

OCT Ensemble
Lara Hall Director & Violin Soloist
Samuel Brough Bassoon Soloist
Luca Manghi & Ashleigh Fraser Flute Soloists

The Cambridge Town Hall provided the ideal acoustic and candlelight setting for this concert.

I would like to predicate this by saying that I attended a Vivaldi concert in Venice at the church of Santa Maria della Pietà or della Visitazione which is also known as the ""Church of Vivaldi". One can imagine a little trepidation here...

Opening with the Bassoon Concerto in E minor, RV484 Vivaldi's distinctive individuality was in full flower in the rich invention which characterized the opening tutti in the undulating fast movements. In the slow Andante he emphasised the languorous poetical and lyrical charms with the most delicate of sensibilities with velvety dark chocolate palette. Brough instilled life into every phrase of his interpretation, performing dazzling feats of athleticism apparently with the utmost of ease. The final vigorous Allegro wa s irresistible and was imbued with an unmistakeable Vivaldian élan.

In the Concerto for Two Flutes, RV533, the two flutes were well matched, and the fast-paced opening movement had an infectious energy. The lyrical central movement allowed space for the music's simplicity to shine. The energy returned in the closing movement, with sprightly semiquavers and clear articulation.

The Concerto for Flute and Bassoon in G Minor RV 104 "La Notte" (The Night) Vivaldi depicted the theme of  "the night", tinged by supernatural fears, in a series of short movements. This was a masterful performance by both soloists and orchestra.

In RV293 "L'autumno"" (Autumn), the joyous Bacchanalian revelry was beautifully captured during the harvest celebrations. The slow movement with its hushed lullaby for the drunken and sleeping merrymakers was portrayed well.

The shivering tremolo of the solo violin ushered in RV297 ""L'inverno"" (Winter). The solos here are the most demanding of all in the Four Seasons, and both solo and ritornello effectively captured freezing temperatures and biting winds. In the final movement, the portrayal of walking on the ice was heard in the stuttering stop-and­-start solo part. In the end Vivaldi, winter brought joy.

Lara Hall as Soloist with her outstanding performance and as Director of the OCT Ensemble gave an outstanding performance in this marvelous venue, 'Cambridge's jewel in the Crown' ensured that this surpassed the Venetian experience.

The concert was performed to a full-house; this "Vivaldi by Candlelight", should be a regular in the Cambridge Autumn Festival concert calendar.


This review first appeared in Cambridge News, 4 April 2024, page 12. Follow this link for the original advertorial. 


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