Abergavenny Symphony Orchestra, Our Lady and St Michael's Church, Abergavenny

4:29pm Wednesday 19th June 2013

By Nigel Jarrett

There were so many points of departure at the summer concert of this enterprising band of musicians that one barely knows where to start.

At the auspicious beginning is as good as any, with the performance of a work commissioned by the orchestra from the composer Raymond Warren.

In style his Gwent Carnival overture is pastoral and in substance is about Abergavenny and based on folk songs collected by the 19th-century harpist Maria Jane Williams.

Each of the sections, reflecting the town’s three surrounding peaks, starts with an improvisatory harp (Llewellyn Ifan Jones) in contemplative mood. This is followed by a busy medley of the tunes descriptive of the town’s eventful market life.

A well-crafted piece, it proved to be a challenge for the augmented orchestra, but it would be a while before the musicians came together again in full-ish cry.

The orchestra was reduced slightly for Solveig’s Song from Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite and for Mozart’s Third Horn Concerto (K.447) in which the capable soloist was one of its own members, professional musician Hannah Stonelake, from Raglan. More light entered to expose its brass section in the fanfare to the ballet La Péri by Dukas and then its winds in the Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments by Richard Strauss, both performed with concentration undistracted.

It was all together again for the rousing Karelia Suite of Sibelius, ending an evening of variety for conductor Eugene Monteith, who found time to praise the new leader, Paul Walster, and trumpeter Paul Kelly, who received the ASO’s annual Muncaster Award for outstanding achievement.

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