David Hayes reviews The Chiltern Camerata's latest concert on Saturday, November 14 at Amersham Free Church. 

There is nothing new about having a concert devoted exclusively to the performance of several concertos featuring a celebrity soloist but in the case of this evening’s concert, given by The Chiltern Camerata, five concertos were chosen to demonstrate the extensive range of the concerto format.  Each work in the programme was introduced by the orchestra’s conductor, Sam Laughton – who also acted as solo pianist, giving a clear insight into the various styles and groupings for each of the composers chosen, all coming together to make a thoroughly entertaining and instructive evening.

The opening work, Concerto for Four Violins Op 3 No 10 by Vivaldi, featured four soloists from the orchestra who immediately found a fine balance which was transmitted throughout the accompanying orchestra resulting in a most satisfying performance.

There were moments in the Mozart Piano Concerto No 13 in C major K415 when one was treated to some of the sublimely delicate passages for which Mozart is rightly   known but sometimes it seemed that the full bodied tone from the modern instrument being used was less suited to this style of music.

In marked contrast to the Vivaldi the Handel Concerto Grosso in C minor Op6 No 8 which followed featured a different set of soloists, again from the orchestra, and in a different layout of players. There were moments when the ensemble in some of the faster sections seemed a little uneasy but these were more than offset by some fine playing.

For the Concerto in D for Strings by Stravinsky Sam Laughton left his piano to concentrate on conducting this extremely complex work for which the players, paradoxically, produced their finest playing. Written when first in America the work was commissioned by the Basel Symphony Orchestra for their 20th anniversary.

The piano, which seemed too powerful for the Mozart, really came into its own for the last work in the concert – the Fugue from The Concerto Grosso No 1 by Bloch.  This is a very cheerful and strident work with impressive piano obbligato part which Sam Laughton played with great bravura and which brought this interesting evening to a memorable conclusion.

Review by David Hayes

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