Review: Axe Vale Orchestra Jubilee concert

The Axe Vale Orchestra's Jubilee concert

The Axe Vale Orchestra's Jubilee concert - Credit: Axe Vale Orchestra

The Axe Vale Orchestra presented a really up-beat concert in the Feoffees Hall, Colyton, to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  By clever planning, all the music was associated with the UK but not all of it was written by British composers.   
 
The concert on Sunday, May 22 opened with the rondeau from Henry Purcell’s Abdelazar.  His music is well established in the British heart and this little melody was taken up 300 years later by another archetypal British composer, Benjamin Britten. He used it as the theme for the set of variations used in the educational documentary film, ‘Instruments of the Orchestra’.  
 
Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas are quintessentially British with their lampooning of British institutions and aristocracy.  Once more, it was a later composer, this time an Australian, Charles Mackerras, who lifted the best tunes to create a ballet ‘Pineapple Poll’.  The orchestra really relished Sullivan’s catchy tunes and had fun with the fast string passages and striking brass tunes.  And when the orchestra struck up ‘Never Mind the Why and Wherefore’ from HMS Pinafore you sensed the audience wanting to join in.   
 
The AVO are rather good at Mendelssohn’s music so it was no surprise that they captured the misty atmosphere of his Hebrides Overture, better known as Fingal’s Cave.  Mendelssohn was a great enthusiast for Britain; he visited many times and had a close friendship with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with whom he spent musical evenings.   
 
George Frideric Handel was another fan of Britain and not only moved to London but took on British citizenship and changed the spelling of his name!  The Music for the Royal Fireworks is such a joyful, celebratory piece with the tunes coming thick and fast.   
 
Eric Coates wrote mainly popular music. The AVO played his Three Elizabeths Suite; the movement commemorating the Queen Mother had a serene oboe solo played beautifully by Caroline Page.  This contrasted so well with the ebullient last movement with its striking brass themes.    
 
Finally, Franz Lehar’s Gold and Silver Waltz with its colourful glockenspiel brought this splendid concert to an end and left the audience smiling and gently swaying to the waltz rhythms.  Well done Arturo Serna and the AVO.  I look forward to hearing Arturo as the soloist in Dvorak’s gorgeous Cello Concerto on 16 October.