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Three Reviews

by Tigger23 

Posted: 04 March 2006
Word Count: 871

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Concert Review

Mozart’s 250th: Mozart and Richard Strauss – Guest Soloist Nicola Benedetti

Birmingham Symphony Hall – Friday 17th February 2006

This concert, part of the Symphony Hall’s Mozart’s 250th celebrations paired two of Mozart’s most melodically appealing pieces with works by Richard Strauss, whose own work owes a lot to the influence of Mozart.

The concert featured the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gerard Schwartz. The first piece played was Mozart’s Symphony No 36 in C, with its slow majestic movements, played on the full range of string instruments. For the second piece, the orchestra was joined by 2004 young Musician of the year, violinist Nicola Benedetti, for the Violin Concerto No3 in G. The solo virtuoso playing of Benedetti, was matched by the shifting tonal colours of the orchestra, particularly in the attractive, and emotive playing of the second and third movements.

Two much shorter pieces were played in the second half, with both pieces written by Richard Strauss. The first piece, suite from Der Rosenkavalier was more dynamic than the Mozart Pieces, with the full complement of orchestral colours, such as percussion, full strings, and celeste, being used to add to the piece. The final piece in the recital was the Tone Poem, Till Eulenspiegel, with its light hearted overture, and use of harps, and no fewer than seven basses bringing the power of Strauss music to its full realisation.

The ovation that each of the four pieces played were testament to the talent of the performers, but also to the talent of the composers, and to the quality of the music that they wrote.

Theatre Review

O Go My Man – Birmingham Rep Theatre – 2nd March 2006

O Go My Man, - an anagram of Monogamy is a serious play that explores issues of modern life, from the media, to relationships, to fidelity, and ideas about the concepts of reality and art.

There are elements of surrealism in the play, and it focuses on the interweaving lives of a group of Dubliners. A journalist, Neil, returns from seeing and reporting upon war atrocities, and takes a hammer to his own life. He leaves a marriage of 16 years, to start his life with a new lover.

The theme of replacing what seems old and tired with something seemingly new and exciting is a theme that runs throughout the course of the play. Neil’s new love, Sarah has left a partner, a struggling photographer. The couple are shown to be idealistic, but their idealism means that their relationship has been allowed to survive in a state of statis. Neither moving forward or back.

The inciting incident at the centre of the play has an air of inevitability about it, and the circular nature of the writing means that the status quo is seen to be returning to how it was at the start of the play.

The play was adult by its very nature; exploring themes similar to those found in Duck, O Go My Man’s writer, Stella Feehilly’s first play. Themes such as reality television, politics, a story involving a newly famous celebrity chef, and his eventual downfall, which involves many of the play’s central characters, are also allowed space within this busy, thematically diverse production.

The final scene of the play, set in an art gallery where the photographer stages an exhibition of the photos he took while his and Sarah’s relationship was in freefall shows that there are no easy resolutions, and this moral ambiguity, was one of the plays major strengths.

Concert Review

Dave Kelly and Christine Collister with the Dave Kelly Band
Lichfield Guildhall – 3rd March 2006

Two of the countries most acclaimed singer-songerwriters played to a capacity audience when Dave Kelly and Christine Collister performed in the city’s Guildhall.

Dave Kelly, through his work with the Blues Band is recognised as one of the country’s finest blues slides guitarists, while Christine Collister is widely recognised as having one of the music industry’s finer voices.

The duo were accompanied by a very tight, able and sympathetic band, whose pedigree includes playing onstage and on record with Dire Straits, Bob Dylan, The Climax Blues Band, and the Blues Band. Lead guitarist Peter Emery and keyboard player Peter Fillieul added colour to the rock steady rhythms supplied by bassist Gary Fletcher and drummer Pick Withers.

The six piece ensemble played a wide range of music ranging from their own compositions, to music by the Band, Townes Van Zandt, Emmylou Harris, and some traditional music.

Songs covered included a stunning rendition of the Band’s ‘The Night they drove old Dixie down’ with superlative vocal harmonies and musicianship. A version of Emmylou Harris’s ‘Boulder to Birmingham’ allowed Christine Collister to show of her full vocal range. Other songs such as Gary Fletcher’s ‘Can’t get arrested’ and ‘Lost and Found’ also allowed the band full reign, with the duelling Stratocasters of the first song, and the dovetailing of all parts during the second song being particular highlights.

The band also covered soul songs such as ‘Tracks of My Tears’ which were all well received by the audience. A touching encore of the Everly Brother’s ‘Let it be me’ provided a suitable ending to the concert.

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Comments by other Members

Cornelia at 13:17 on 04 March 2006  Report this post
How pleasant to have three reviews of different entertainments, all giving clear, essential information in a readable format.

From your description of the action and themes I'd definitely want to see the play, but would probably want to know whether the acting is any good - some of the audience response that you mention in the concert reviews would be helpful.

I think an alternative to 'fine' as a description of the playing and singing of the Dave Kelly pair would be better -I would have liked a little more flavour of the voice and numbers, whether soft and plaintive, for instance, ballad-like or strident.

As I say, formation is clear and it is clear you enjoyed all three.My only quibble is that you seem a little over-respectful of the performers.

One phrase you might change;

The inciting incident

Maybe 'instigating event' ? Just a suggestion. I enjoyed reading these and look forward to more.


Sorry, I don't seem to be able to get the hang of using the quotation boxes

scoops at 19:59 on 08 March 2006  Report this post
Tigger, I'm envious that you're having such stimulating evenings out:-)

Before going further I think it's important to establish that a review is a subjective report on an entertainment of some kind. In other words, the writer's perspective is what drives the piece. Regular readers of reviews don't just want to know what was performed, they want to know whether it is a worthwhie sensory experience.

The problem with all three of your reviews is they read like extended programme notes, laced with occasional observation in the form of statements. The main observations are:

attractive, and emotive playing/ The ovation that each of the four pieces played were testament to the talent of the performers/his moral ambiguity, was one of the plays major strengths/ very tight, able and sympathetic band/included a stunning rendition of/ the dovetailing of all parts during the second song being particular highlights.

When you look at them on their own, I hope you can see that there is a strange lack of emotion, description, feeling and empathy in what you've written, and I suspect that's because you're applying the rules of news journalism - objectivity and impartiality - to the one area where you are allowed to say what you really think:-)

It's worth having another go at these because they were clearly impressive evenings out and ones that should enthuse the couch potatoes among us to get off our bottoms and go out more. Shyama

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