English Chamber Orchestra featuring Natalie Clein

English Chamber Orchestra featuring Natalie Clein

Wednesday, 22 January 2020, 8.00pm

Boasting a discography of nearly 900 recordings of over 1,500 works by more than 400 composers, the English Chamber Orchestra (ECO), otherwise known as the most recorded chamber orchestra in the world, make a welcome return to the National Concert Hall, Wednesday 22nd January 2020 at 8pm.

This special evening pairs the powerfully expressive Orchestra, recognised for their enthralling and potent performances, with the famed conductor Serebrier, renowned for his melodic, colourful and energetic style - ‘one of the most eminent conductors of our time’ (Fonoforum Germany) – and cellist Natalie Clein, described by The Times as ‘mesmerising’ and ‘soaringly passionate’.

This concert, as part of the NCH International Concert Series 2019/2020, sees the Orchestra perform an all-Tchaikovsky programme to include the Rococo Variations, Elegie, Serenade for Strings, Op. 48 as well as Andante Cantabile and None but the Lonely Heart both arranged by Serebrier.

Serebrier is one of the most recorded conductors of his generation. He has a long association with Tchaikovsky and has released several cds of his work including; Serenade for Strings, Elegy, Suite No. 4, Tchaikovsky: Symphony 4 F Minor, Tchaikovsky: Hamlet, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet and Tchaikovsky: Fatum, 1812, Capriccio Italien and other works.

Serebrier began to conduct at the age of 12 and as a young man went to the U.S. to study with Leopold Stokowski who has hailed him as ‘the great master of orchestral balance’. Amongst his many accolades, Serebrier has received forty-three Grammy nominations and won the Latin Grammy in the ‘Best Classical Recording of the Year’ category. Serebrier Conducts Prokofiev, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky filmed at the Sydney Opera, has been shown over 50 times on U.S. television and around the world.

The English Chamber Orchestra [ECO] have a similarly long association with Tchaikovsky having performed his works with various conductors including, in an earlier incarnation, their first patron Benjamin Britten and more recently Serebrier himself. Acclaimed for their extensive and impressive discography of over 1,500 works by more than 400 composers, they are also acclaimed for their soundtrack work, including Dario Marianelli’s prize-winning scores for Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. For this special concert they are joined by acclaimed cellist Natalie Clein who has built a distinguished career, regularly performing at major venues and with orchestras worldwide.




Why I gave the above rating: 

A charming evening was had in the company of the English Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Uruguayan conductor, José Serebrier.

The programme consisted entirely of Tchaikovsky commencing with AndanteCantabile, which was followed by None but the Lonely Heart. The strings performed with astonishing precision, yet never lost any of the romance of the music. A sheer delight.

This delicate two course aperitif was followed by a beguiling rendition of the Elegy in G major. Ethereal splendour from beginning to end.

The diminutive José Serebrier will be 82 this year, and he leads the orchestra with modest gestures. However, one could not help but feel the love from the players who followed their leader's every cue with knowing respect.

The audience too was putty in Serebrier's hands, as he welcomed celebrated cellist Natalie Clein to the stage. Clein confidently took up her position, wearing an unassuming jumpsuit that seemed to match her personality. Easy-going, modest and unrestrained.

Performing the Rococo Variations, Natalie Clein saturated the auditorium in the lush tones of her Guadagnini cello. Its pale patina reflected her light touch as Clein gave an emotional virtuoso performance which was always in synchrony with the orchestra, but yet consistently imprinted with her own distinctive flair.

Following her recital, Natalie Clein returned for an encore. She addressed the audience briefly, before treating those present to a solo performance of Bach's Prelude No. 1. It was a sure crowdpleaser and Clein rightly received rapturous applause.

Following the interval, the orchestra performed Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, which contained all the trademark accuracy and crisp coordination we had now come to expect from this top-flight ensemble.

The audience demanded more and José Serebrier was fully prepared, personally introducing four encore pieces. These included the second movement of Bach's Suite No. 3 (Air on the G String), and English Chamber Orchestra favourite, the overture to Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino complete with its distinctive "bow tapping". It was a pleasing and light-hearted end to a lush evening in the company of true professionals merrily plying their trade.

Jan 27, 2020

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