Devizes Festival: Orchestra of the Swan at the Corn Exchange

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Tamsin Waley-Cohen Tamsin Waley-Cohen

It has been 11 years since Devizes Festival last had the pleasure of an orchestral concert and Tuesday’s concert in the Corn Exchange by The Orchestra of the Swan made up for that omission magnificently.

The orchestra, which is based in Stratford-upon-Avon, has steadily built up a big reputation for its high standard of performances throughout the UK and also in the USA and China.

Under the leadership of conductor David Curtis, they presented a beautifully balanced programme of some of the best of British music from the first part of the 20th century.

The high-spirited nature of Holst’s St Paul’s Suite for Strings was followed by the gentler and more lyrical strains of Elgar’s ever popular Serenade for Strings.

The highlight of the first half was a stunningly beautiful performance by Tamsin Waley-Cohen of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.

Her playing of this piece was technically assured with the most delicate playing, especially in the higher registers.

From the opening notes she transported the audience into this marvellous evocation of the rural English landscape as it must have been at the turn of the 20th century.

The second half began with two short pieces for strings by William Walton taken from his film score for Laurence Olivier’s 1944 film of Henry V.

The concert ended with a sparkling performance of Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony, especially in the Playful Pizzicato movement.

On a beautiful summer’s evening, the large and appreciative audience left the Corn Exchange with this wonderful music ringing in their ears.

Let us hope that Devizes doesn’t have to wait 11 more years before we can have the pleasure of another orchestral concert such as this.

DAVID LUCAS

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