Axe Vale Orchestra’s latest Minster concert gets feet tapping

PUBLISHED: 17:01 25 February 2020

Members of Axe Vale Orchestra rehearsing for their concert at Axminster. Picture: AVO

Members of Axe Vale Orchestra rehearsing for their concert at Axminster. Picture: AVO


Schubert’s holy grail was to write the great German opera.

Alas his poor choice of librettists meant he was destined never to succeed, writes Ray Bruno.

The music he wrote for Helmina von Chézy's awful play Rosamunde has thankfully survived and the Axe Vale Orchestra opened their latest concert, on February 16, at The Minster, Axminster, with the delightful overture, a succession of fine tunes.

I cannot recall seeing so many appreciative people bobbing their heads or tapping their feet at a concert. Smiling music indeed!

Brahms Variations on the St Anthony Chorale is a much sturdier piece and was the most difficult of the afternoon. Arturo Serna moulded this work beautifully despite the nine variations being so full of contrast - the bouncy second variation and the third with the oboe part so well played. And the graceful waltz of the seventh was so beautifully captured. They allowed the orchestra to show off their skills especially the woodwind; their piccolo flourishes at the conclusion were particularly striking. And what a conclusion, full of power and majesty.

A melodramatic Lehár waltz complete with chirruping bird song led up to the final work - Mozart's Haffner Symphony. The wealthy Haffner family asked him to write this for the investiture of their son but it is likely Mozart missed the deadline - he said he was too busy! Familiar excuse. Whilst not as great as his final symphonies this is nonetheless full of his innovation and tunefulness. From the strident call-to-arms which begins it, through the numerous striking key-changes the AVO kept the momentum and shaped the various moods: now tragic, now jaunty, now calm.

This was challenging music well played by the AVO. Their next concert will be at The Feoffees Hall, Colyton and will contain more delightful music. I look forward to it.

* The Axe Vale Orchestra was founded in 2005 and brings together amateur and professional players from East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset. Its concerts include solo concerti, symphonies, orchestral suites and vocal pieces

It performs three concerts a year in East Devon and rehearse for five weeks before each one. It has also performed with Axminster's twin town Douvres-La-Delivrande in Normandy, both there and in Devon, and members also play for local events.

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