Saturday 18th June 2016 – St James Church, Taunton
Conductor – David Hedges
Butterworth – The Banks of Green Willow
Grieg – Peer Gynt Suite No 1 and No 2
Tchaikovsky – Symphony no 6 Pathetique
Saturday 5th March 2016 – Queen’s College, Taunton
Conductor – David Hedges Soloist – Tim Lowe
Borodin – In the Steppes of Central Asia
Moeran – Concerto for Cello
Tchaikovsky – Symphony no 2
Saturday 6th December 2015 – St Mary’s Church, Taunton/Sunday 13th December 2015 – St Mary’s Church Chard
Conductor – David Hedges Soloist Alex Ennis
Mendelssohn – The Hebrides Overture
Richard Wagner – Siegfried Idyll
Heath – Concerto for Violin & String Orchestra
Schubert – Symphony no 5
Saturday 24th October 2015 – Queen’s College, Taunton
Conductor – David Hedges Soloist – Jonty Hedges
Rimsky – Korsakov – Capriccio Espagnol
Ibert – concerto for Flute
Tchaikovsky – Symphony no 4
With a commanding flourish Somerset County Orchestra plunged into Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol”. It made an excellent curtain-raiser to their first concert, showing off all sections of the orchestra to advantage, albeit with some minor wobbles in the horn section. The overall confident and rhythmical style of playing suited this piece to perfection. Dramatic dances, playful solo passages, and even castanets, all contributed to an intense Spanish atmosphere.
“Concerto for Flute” by Ibert continued the energetic and colourful mood. Jonty Hedges was outstanding as the soloist, diving confidently into the complex and demanding semi-quaver passages with which the work starts, and equally engaging in the more languorous second movement. The overall orchestral sound was cohesive and beautifully phrased, with some especially luscious string sounds.
The climax of this excellent concert was Tchaikovsky’s extravagant Fourth Symphony. The arresting, and well-known, brass opening was given its full worth in this performance, justifying the composer’s description of it as “the fatal force … one must submit to it”. Playing in every section of the orchestra was full of spirit, stylish and very expressive. David Hedges, conducting, is to be congratulated on the expert way he marshalled and controlled his large forces. The Orchestra has more Tchaikovsky planned next year – don’t miss it! Sue Goodman 25/10/15
Saturday 20th June 2015 – St James Church, Taunton
Conductor – David Hedges
Haydn – Symphony no 104
Vivaldi – Concerto for two violins
Faure – Pavane
Mozart – Symphony no 40
With their usual panache, Somerset County Orchestra opened the last concert of their season with Haydn’s Symphony no.104, the London. This is a complex work, on a grand scale, and the players gave a wonderfully integrated performance. David Hedges, conducting, brought out all the details as well as thrilling climaxes. With no hesitations or fuzziness, this was large-scale orchestral playing to a very high standard.
Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins was on a much smaller scale, just strings and harpsichord continuo. Alex Ennis, the orchestra’s leader, and David Hedges were the soloists, David directing the ensemble where necessary. The soloists excelled in lyrical light and shade passages, and produced exciting playing in the exuberant third movement. On the whole, the orchestral strings accompanied sympathetically, although the upper strings were too soft and tentative at times.
After the interval we heard Fauré’s beautiful Pavane, with its haunting flute melody. A melancholy but serene mood was nicely portrayed, but perhaps a bit too slow and sedate.
The last piece was Mozart’s Symphony no.40, his penultimate. It needs, and it got, focussed and disciplined playing to bring out the “violence, passion and grief” of the music. The work is full of unexpected key changes, cross rhythms and unconventional stresses, all handled confidently by the players. Tutti passages full of force and energy contrasted with sweet and lyrical sections. Nothing seemed too difficult, and the audience came away uplifted and refreshed by a fabulous evening of music. Sue Goodman 21 June 2015