Concert Review- Stratford-upon-Avon Herald: Orchestra of the Swan Mahler and Strauss

“Mahler of quite exceptional quality”
Civic Hall, Stratford upon Avon
26 November 2010 by John Wheeler
“On Friday at the Townsend Hall, in Shipston, we were treated to a concert of quite exceptional quality, entitled ‘Essential Mahler’ in which the Orchestra of the Swan was joined by contralto Emma Curtis, tenor Brennen Guillory and baritone David Stout, all experienced international singers. The performance was conducted throughout by the orchestra’s principal guest conductor, Kenneth Woods, a man of great and varied musical talent.
The concert opened with The Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss arranged by Schoenberg as a chamber ensemble piece… As one would expect , the Swan’s musicianship was superb. The second item was Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. This solo piece was sung by David Stout, a baritone of remarkable talent. The quality of David’s singing would be evident on any stage in the world and it was a privilege to hear him live in Shipston. Songs of a Wayfarer is a romantic song cycle, which takes the Wayfarer from happiness through disappointment to a final quiet acceptance of his fate.
The second half was given over to Mahler’s Song of the Earth. This is rather a dark piece, reflecting very much the European fashion of the times, for songs describing human struggle and redemption. The piece was played by an augmented chamber consort and snug with great zest and tenderness by tenor Brennen Guillory and contralto Emma Curtis.
There were undoubtedly some in the audience who would have prefered to hear the songs in English, as there were those who appreciated the performance in the original German. This was however a concert for which the performers should be congratulated as well as the Society, whose next event will be on 10th December and will be a concert of Gilbert and Sullivan.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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