Review: The Bristol Ensemble at St George's. Score: 3/5 by Helen Reid
BRISTOL'S well-established chamber orchestra decided to give their faithful – and young – followers a Viennese whirl at their all-Mozart concert at St George's.
The genius of Mozart was the theme, and they kicked off with a brisk, joyful and hearty performance of the Marriage of Figaro overture, showing off their well-knit string sound and lusty brass and timps. Their soloist, whom they have worked with often, judging from the rapport, was pianist Freddy Kempf, who continued the operatic mood with the Piano Concerto no. 23 in A, a familiar work that never fails to lift the spirits. Kempf's approach was sturdy, with no sentimentality, either in the liquid running passages of the opening movement, or the wistful slow movement, but the allegro finale was a bit on the heavy side, taken as it was at a driving speed, and with far too much triple forte.
The other concerto, No. 21 in C got the same forceful treatment, with a strong, assertive opening allegro, a pleasing floating andante and a storming finale, all very invigorating but without much subtlety: more light and shade was needed.
That Kempf can do subtle was proved in the encore, Chopin's Raindrop Prelude, with its slow build to storm level from a gentle drip. He played it deliciously, and sent the audience wild with approval.
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