Review: BBC NOW – St David’s Day Concert @ SDH

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BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales – St David’s Day Concert
St David’s Hall
Wednesday 1st March 2017

Every year BBC NOW have a great big Dewi day bash on 1st of March. As far as I recall, they always seem to have this slot at St David’s. The concert is usually either a large scale piece to tie in with the festivities (such as last year with Grace Williams’ bloated Missa Cambrensis) or a night of Welsh light music. This year was very much the later and was a delicious concert of local flavour and charm.

Wales’ great composers all featured: dancy Alun Hoddinott, regal Joseph Parry, standard Gareth Glyn etc. Rebecca Evans having some swell soprano moments in highlighted songs, tenor Joshua Mills have some trembling tenor moment, sometimes forcing his voice to high extremity. Between the singers it felt like competing as to who could “chuff” more in the Welsh language, since many a throat scratcher was presented.

The Threnody by Morfydd Owen is a sort of Welsh Adagio for Strings. It’s a moving and brief lament for the strings and we are frequently reminded how Owen’s early death and how she was a true talent, snatched away far too soon. My Life Belongs To You by Cardiff’s own Ivor Novello is a rousing and soupy lover’s decoration by Mills, in perhaps his best piece of the night. Evans having a blast in Hei Ho, by Haydn Morris felt like Brünnhilde on a visit to Wales. This cry is a hoot for singer and orchestra, as the later never had a dull moment all evening.

The interval on St David’s Day is always a treat: the audience is treated Welsh cakes and buttered Bara brith. This is welcome every year and do hope they keep it up.

A musician to look out for is young violinist Charlie Lovell-Jones. Playing the Allegro from Karl Jenkins’ Sarikiz, the whole movement was a sensational, exotic encounter that never made smiles leave faces. Charlie glows with a luminous musicianship and we’d like to hear him tackle more experimental work and new commissions. Watch this space.

The night concluded however with a medley of Welsh tunes. Through pursed lips, I mouthed and murmured my way through the songs and ran into the familiar choruses with much enthusiasm. I gladly and knowingly sang the Welsh anthem and I been aware that people near to me we’re not singing. Though you always get those show offs in Tier 1 Ho always over sing the anthem.

I think a great big piece is in order for next year.

A merry night all round.

Rating: 4 stars

BBC NOW continues their orchestral season with a performance of Bach’s St Luke Passion and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

An extended performance of Satie’s Vexations takes place around Cardiff in 2017, as a fundraiser for OCD UK, with such venues as the Llanishen Parish Church as locations (more to be confirmed). We also need more musicians, venues, electronics artists, rap artists and artists in all fields to help to complete the piece. Follow #CardiffVexations & @weepingtudor on social media to see more! 


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