The highlight of the Petersfield Orchestra’s concert on Thursday, under their guest conductor, Mark Biggins, was the stunning performance of Beethoven’s magnificent violin concerto.

The soloist, Ana Campanie, is an exceptional musician. Her performance of Beethoven’s masterpiece was imbued with a wonderful spirit of classical serenity. There was a total lack of affectation in her playing. Her tone was ravishing with a silvery beauty when soaring into the stratosphere. The first movement of haunting intensity was full of flair with moments of hushed pianissimos. There was great clarity of articulation in even the most elaborate passagework. Mark Biggins produced excellent support from the orchestra throughout which had an ardent rapport with the soloist. The slow movement had a quality of gentle rapture and serene, spiritual beauty. The joyous finale had an affectionate spring to the galloping rhythms. This was truly a memorable performance…..thank you!

The concert began with the Overture to Mozart’s last opera, The Magic Flute, which is a unique blend of fun and philosophy. The opening imposing wind chords were given due weight, but the scurrying string passage in the Allegro section lacked bite and fervour. The use of trombones lends a special solemnity to the work and tonight’s performance certainly had drama.

Schumann’s 4th symphony is full of romantic sentiment with soulful and assertive themes, which are referred to in other movements. Mark Biggins was attuned to Schumann’s sensibility and gave a strong performance which was fresh, vivid and at time, of high voltage. He injected great fire and rhythmic attack into his players. Overall, the performance lacked contrast in mood and dynamics, especially as the four movements are played without a break. The Romance lacked tenderness and warmth. The Scherzo and Trio which are repeated twice could have been more varied dynamically. However, there were some magnificent climaxes with a truly exciting coda.

Ann Pinhey, Petersfield Post

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