EU Chamber Orchestra Create Satisfying Glow

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Grieg , Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Haydn: Freddy Kempf (piano), European Union Chamber Orchestra/Hans-Peter Hofmann (director), Westmorland Hall, Kendal, Cumbria, 2.2.2013 (MC)

Grieg: Holberg Suite, Op. 40
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414
Tchaikovsky: Elegy for Strings
Haydn: Symphony No. 48 in C major ‘Maria Theresa

Freddy Kempf, credit Neda Navaee
Freddy Kempf, credit Neda Navaee

Those sceptics that wonder what good has come out of the European Union should listen to the European Union Chamber Orchestra (EUCO), a splendid chamber ensemble formed in 1981 comprising young professional musicians from the member countries of the European Union. The EUCO receive an annual operating grant through the European Commission, and I first heard them in 2011 playing for the Lakeland Sinfonia Concert Society at this same well attended Kendal venue.

It’s no wonder that the EUCO has made an excellent name for itself. Led by Hans-Peter Hofmann it wasn’t long before the steadfast unity and sheer beauty of the fifteen strings became apparent. Their performance of the opening work, Grieg’s richly lyrical Holberg Suite subtitled ‘Suite in olden style, contained plenty of charm and such pleasing sensitivity too.

London born Freddy Kempf shone as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major pitching himself wholeheartedly into this attractive piece playing with alertness and lashings of invigorating verve. With pairs of oboes and horns added to the strings Hofmann’s players provided sensitive accompaniment. After the interval a short but comforting treat was Tchaikovsky’s deeply expressive Elegy for Strings.Originally composed as ‘A Grateful Greeting’for the golden jubilee of the actor and director Ivan Samarin the piece was later published after Samarin’s death as an Elegy in his memory.

The concert closed with Haydn’s Symphony No. 48 in C major known as the ‘Maria Theresa’composed for the Holy Roman Empress, Maria Theresa of Austria. Although not achieving the magnificence of his twelve ‘London’ symphonies the ‘Maria TheresaSymphony is certainly an appealing and worthy work. I rather missed the additional colour and character that can be provided by the version that includes the addition of a bassoon, a pair of trumpets and timpani. That said Hofmann directed an enjoyable, well ordered performance. Especially successful was the Adagio that served as a soothing balm and the infectiously dance-like Menuetto felt judiciously paced with nicely sprung rhythms.

This popular Lakeland Sinfonia programme from the Westmorland hall generated plenty of winter warmth to accompany us all back to our firesides with a satisfying glow. With orchestras responding so positively to full houses I’m already looking forward to the visit to Kendal of the Hallé on the 16th February and the BBC Philharmonic on the 2nd March.

Michael Cookson