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Royal Philharmonic Orchestra thrill Warwick Arts audience

Katherine Lacy, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Jamie Phillips, conductor, Warwick Arts Centre,15 February.

Review by Anne Cee.

The current orchestra series at Warwick Arts Centre is delivering an exceptional programme. Last night the exquisite Butterworth Hall was packed out with a refreshingly diverse audience of young and old from near and far.

Glamorous soloist, Katherine Lacy, provided everything that Mozart could ever have dreamed of, as she took the audience on her journey of faultless grace through one of my all-time favourite pieces, the Clarinet Concerto. An exquisite composition that can take the indoor audience to the heavens of the outdoors as it evokes delicate visions of nature, slipping effortlessly from curiosity, to playful, to stirring. Katherine and the orchestra had an enchanting partnership which allowed the music to sail along in celebration and exploration of the world around us. I closed my eyes and let the music offer solace and comfort as it soothed and restored my tired frame.

The audience were deeply appreciative of Katherine’s intuitive connection to the music, returning her to the stage three times. For me, this was the highlight of the evening but the opening Haydn and the closing Beethoven delighted my companion equally.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Ben Wright.

The Beethoven piece, Symphony No. 3, feels much more assertive in intent and atmosphere than the Mozart, offering the chance for the timpani (Richard Cartlidge) and six double basses (led by Benjamin Cunningham) to create drama and a brooding, moodiness that few teenagers could match, before flutes and oboes move in to offer a lighter, more romantic element. It’s a familiar piece to many of us but rarely have I heard it played with such balance, precision and enjoyment.

Conductor Jamie Phillips is wonderful. He seems to offer his musicians a warm, human collaboration that enables and supports an exceptional unity of sound and spirit. I was struck by the clarity of his communication and the responsive teamwork of the orchestra in meeting his requests, generating a generous foundation for each section to rise and shine in their moment.

The Royal Philharmonic is welcome to our stage any time, perhaps we could persuade them to return more frequently to keep us in energised bliss? In the meantime, I will look forward to next month, when, on the 17 March, the Swedish Philharmonia will visit us at the Arts Centre…


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