REVIEWS: Music - Manchester Camerata, Doncaster Civic Theatre

Manchester Camerata
Manchester Camerata

A classical way to build an audience -

Too stuffy and stern to survive? Too removed from the audience? 
Conductor Gabor Takacs-Nagy, charming the audience to heavenly heights with his endearing Hungarian accent and warm smiles, read out a warning from The Independent: the death knell will toll for live classical music unless its conservative, stand-offish image changes fast!
This argument’s been doing the rounds for years, of course, but things have already changed. 
For many years, (even!) in Doncaster, audiences have been enjoying the chatty, informal, humorous style of the likes of Ensemble 360. 
Tonight, Mr Takacs-Nagy showed that, when it comes to fun and audience rapport, he too is a master. His anecdotes and engaging friendliness, alongside splendid programme notes, greatly enhanced our enjoyment of tonight’s music from Manchester Camerata, currently celebrating forty years of performance around the globe.
Eliciting smiles of pleasure all the way from players and audience alike, lively elfin sprite Nagy danced his body and his long, expressive hands in a clear conducting style that embodies his enjoyment and vitality.
The excitingly diverse programme included Mozart’s Fifth Symphony, less than ten minutes long, but an amazing piece. Mozart was only nine when he wrote it, yet it has all the charm and emotional charge of works yet to come. Another fine choice was Haydn’s 1772 Trauer (mourning) Symphony with its variety of moods and little surprises. 
The composer requested the serene adagio be played at his funeral.
The combined talents, discipline and togetherness of the string section also evoked the drama of Janacek’s Suite for Strings and Orchestra with Nathaniel Boyd’s magnificent cello playing adding magical resonance, while Elgar’s wistful Elegy for Strings echoed the grieving tones and soulful restraint of his Nimrod.
Biggest treat of all was Mozart’s wonderful bassoon concerto of 1774, the most played of all bassoon concerti (even though Vivaldi wrote 29 of them!) 
Mozart wrote it when he was only eighteen, but was way ahead of his time: bassoons back then had only five or so keys whereas now they have more than twenty, yet the piece is ideal for showing off the versatility and beauty of today’s instrument, and allows for impressive work too from oboes and horns.
Our soloist (who later returned to play in the Haydn) was the magnificent Laurence Perkins, whose expressive soaring, singing, plunging, leaping scamper and bubble were delivered with such eloquent ease, deftness and resonant tone. 
For Laurence, playing in Doncaster was particularly special since it was here, exactly forty years ago, when his career was getting launched, that he played his first solo.
Eileen Caiger Gray

RATING: 8/10