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  Romance in a Cold Climate

Orchestral warmth dispels arctic conditions.

A packed Milton Keynes Theatre enjoyed a thoroughly heart-warming concert given by the City Orchestra and Hilary Davan Wetton on the evening of the Big Freeze. The highlight of the concert was a fascinating performance of the luscious third piano concerto of Rachmaninov, played by a favourite of Milton Keynes, Peter Donohoe. This often-played work can sometimes sound hackneyed, but Donohoe brought a freshness that was warmly appreciated by the rapt audience. It has the reputation of being the most difficult concerto in the repertoire but this was not obvious in a performance of brilliant precision. The enthusiasm of the audience at the end of the performance was rewarded by a bonus encore by Donohoe of one of Debussy's works inspired, not by the cold of the North, but the warmth of Spain.

The concert began with a well-considered performance of a delightful rarity, Hamish MacCunn's overture inspired by his native Scotland, In the Land of the Mountain and the Flood. Conducting this work was the City Orchestra's new Principal Guest Conductor, Sian Edwards, and the response of the audience to her thoughtful interpretation of this delightful lollipop augurs well for her future appearances in the Theatre.

The second major work in the concert, once more conducted by Wetton, was Sibelius' ever-popular Second Symphony which was well received by an audience that had been given inner warmth with which to face the arctic conditions outside.

Reviewer:  Roy Tipping


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