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First published on Friday 02 July 2004:

Sounds of a Nation Review: Malvern Theatres

A select audience enjoyed the concert being recorded by the BBC for 3 For All.

Brian Kay introduced the programme, which had a patriotic theme. Kenneth Woods was conductor of the fine musicians comprising the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Their first item was the atmospheric In the Steppes of Central Asia by Russian composer Borodin. Solo woodwind fragments against bell-like high strings set the scene, depth of orchestral sound quality and refined brass pre-eminent as the performance progressed.

These attributes were also evident in Kodaly's Hungar-ian Dances of Galanta alongside subtle integral changes of tempi and tonality, and solo clarinet episodes.

In Copland's Appalachian Spring, idiomatic of the vast expanses of Pennsylvania, sparsely spaced strings gradually developed into a rich combination of exciting harmonies, then rhythmic stru-mming of cellos as square dancing was embraced.

Patricia Rozario was the splendid soprano soloist in Canteloube's Chants d'Auver-gne. These French songs were sung with immense beauty and given sensitive accompaniments. Brezairola, a lullaby, involved the orchestra's leader in a solo introduction. Rozario also sang several of Berio's interpretations of folk songs from America and Italy.

Harry, resident pianist, entertained with clever improvisations of well-known tunes in the style of named composers; the most successful was Rule Brittania in Beethoven's style. Elgar's Imperial March was the orchestra's majestic finale.

The programme will go out on Radio 3, on Sunday, July 11, at 4pm.

Jill Hopkins

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