On Saturday evening (23 September 2017) in the Reid Hall, Forfar, Tayside Symphony Orchestra played to a full house in a concert of Russian music, Russian Romantics , to mark the anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The guest soloist, saxophonist Ellie Steemson, enthralled as she soared and swirled her way through Glazunov's Saxophone Concerto. The soloists's superb control of her instrument's dynamics was immediately apparent. It is unusual to have a concerto written for a non-orchestral instrument and it is a work which is seldom heard in this area. Ellie is a graduate of the London Guildhall School of Music, a member of the Scottish Saxaphone Ensemble and has achieved acclaim as a versatile saxophonist as was amply borne out this evening. As an encore, Ellie was persuaded, by continuous applause, to play Caprice en forme de Valse by Paul Bonneau.
The concert opened with a lively performance of Glinka's Overture to Ruslan & Lyudmilla, followed by two rousing pieces by Mussorgsky; Night on the Bare Mountain and The Great Gate of Kiev (from Pictures at an Exhibition).
No concert of Russian music would be complete without music by Tchaikovsky and tonight we were treated
to an outstanding performance of his 5th Symphony. The haunting French Horn solo at the start of the second movement was of particular note and the lyrical and lilting melody of the waltz in the third movement was very sympathetically conveyed by the players. In a final fast and furious movement, the orchestra captured the mood of a Russian dance to close the work on a real high.
The annual presentation of the Ron Walker Bursary recognises the contribution to TSO by a young player who has performed regularly with TSO while at school and is going on to study Music at University or College. This year's recipient is Kiera Mitchell who has commenced at Aberdeen University.
Full credit to TSO, and conductor Richard Allan, the orchestra rose to the challenge of an ambitious programme with a positively scintillating performance. The next concert will be on 3rd February, 2018 and will consist of French music, including another very popular symphony, the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz. Put the date in your diary!