Concert Review- Surrey Mozart Players, 28 Jan, 2012. Mahler, Mendelssohn and Gal

From the February 3, 2012 Surrey Advertiser:

Surrey Mozart Players on top form for Electric Theatre performance

Those who ventured out to the Electric Theatre last Saturday were in for a real treat. The Surrey Mozart Players under their charismatic conductor Kenneth Woods has gone from strength to strength in recent years.

This was borne out in a gripping performance of Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony in which the wild, stormy nature of the country that inspired it and the composer’s own driven personality shone forth.

There were dramatic moments, a magnificent brooding quality, some finely played melodies, some deft playing in the Scherzo, but above all it was the pointing of the wind players which impressed.  And under Woods’s brisk direction the sometimes self-satisfied tune which concludes the symphony sounded anything but.  It was rather bold and stirring in the lower strings.

For a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder the instrumentalists were joined by the fine young Baritone Marcus Farnsworth, who conveyed the meaning of the five songs quite beautifully.

Mahler, an admirer of Mendelssohn, used the accompanying instruments sparingly, but very effectively, in all five songs.

The poems matched the intense, wistful, and nature-loving mood of the composer.  There is a spine-chilling moment in the third song Um Mitternach where the word “Herr” (Lord) is repeated to different harmonies here, and in the final incomparable Ich bin der Welt, the instrumentalists were on top form, with some lovely sounds from the cor anglais at the end.

Hans Gal, who spent the latter part of his long life in Edinburgh, was a admirer of Mahler.  There are indeed suggestions of the older composer in Gal’s Triptych, a symphony in everything but name. It is a pleasantly conceived extrovert, and workman-like piece, which received a tremendously energetic performance from the orchestra. Such a successful evening bodes well for the Surrey Mozart Players’ next appearance at the Electric Theatre on Saturday March 24th.

Shelagh Godwin – Advertiser 3/2/2012

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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

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