Review: The Festival Commission at St Andrew’s Hall
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The high point of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's concert on Sunday evening was the world premiere of the young UK composer, Kemal Yusuf's choral work, Cain, specially commissioned for the NNF. In their adaptation of the biblical story of Cain and Abel, librettist Matthew Monaghan, together with the composer have produced a text that crystallises the contrast between human suffering and the need for humankind to renew itself.
Distinctly operatic in character, the work made a brilliant first impression. Yusuf's music is very individual; his scoring for the large orchestral forces masterly, as is his dramatic writing for the three soloists, and the work is immediately accessible, and compelling throughout. Soprano Jeni Bern's Eve, baritone Alexander Robin Baker's Cain, and tenor Christopher Diffey's Abel were equally fine; the Festival Chorus,in their role partly as narrator, partly as The Lord, were excellent, the whole coming together splendidly under the masterful conducting of David Parry.
It was good programming to preface such a dramatic work with Chausson's lovely Poeme for violin and orchestra. The young violinist, Savitri Grier already enjoys a successful career as soloist and chamber musician, and showed a real understanding of the work, in an elegant performance which projected a constant beauty of sound throughout.
To end, a splendid performance of Franck's D minor symphony, with a reading by conductor David Parry that was strong and vital, without any trace of self-indulgence, and to which the orchestra responded magnificently in all departments, though special mention must be made of Holly Randll's cor anglais solo in the second movement.