The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are very much one rather interesting orchestra. Why not take the chance to see them again in a programme of Mendelssohn and Berlioz.On entering Royal Festival Hall on thing that was noticable absent on the stage – a conductors podium. Kati Debretzeni was leading the orchestra today whilst playing the violin.

The first piece of the evening was Mendelssohn’s The Fair Melusina. With the first note sounding you know that you were in for a treat! The full orchestra felt like a small chamber orchestra and the sound was just exqusite. The piece has a lovely playfulness about it and it really shone through beautifully! It was a really great start to the evening.

Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’ete was second on the programme. After having listened to the piece last year in New York and not having the best experience I decided to give it another go and another chance. The soloist of the evening was Sarah Connolly. It was still unusual to not have a conductor with the orchestra. In the interval that lady next to me told me that he daughter is a member of the orchestra and that they had spent such a long time rehearsing this particular programme. To not have a conductor with the orchestra alone is a challenge but then to add a soloist into this mix as well adds a new dimension. But what an experience it was! The communication between the individual musicians was just outstanding. Sarah Connolly built up such a rapport with the audience and kept it through the whole of the six songs. Her pronounciation of the texts was second to none as well – there was not necessarily the need to look at the text provided. Giving this lovely piece of music another chance was the best thing I could do – it really made up for the not so positive first concert.

After the interval Berlioz’ Reverie et Caprice for violin and orchestra followed. This was such a fun piece – Berlioz’ music was like something out of a different world. Kati Debretzeni played the solo part with such ease – it was so joyful to watch everyone play and there were a few chuckles in the audience and the piece ended with rupturous applause.

The last piece of the evening was Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 4, ‘Italian’. I have to admit that I have never listened to this symphony in any version before, at least not consciously. Mendelssohn decided to revise the original version. The first movement did not get changed but the other 3 did get overhauled. As I don’t know the original version I sadly can’t judge whether it was any better.

All of the evening was amazing! It was lovely to not have a conductor for a change – it really gave the whole concert just a totally different layer. The connection between the orchestra was just remarkable and truly inspiring. The whole atmosphere was electric and the hall was so quiet with everybody just so indulged in the music. There were also 4 young players taking part in the concert as pasrt of the OAE Experience for Talented Young Players – it was just beautiful to watch them being part of this amazing orchestra! Another lovely evening of fantastic music…



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