Review: The Alina Orchestra - "This rousing symphony can’t help but raise and stir the emotions"

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I was most excited about my latest trip to see the Alina Orchestra performing for the first time at the wonderful Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.

On this occasion, we had the privilege of experiencing a much larger orchestra than previously, which consisted of around fifty musicians, including 1st Violinist David Juritz and charismatic conductor Hilary Daven Wetton. The larger orchestra resulted in a richer and more dynamic sound, which perfectly complemented the evening’s inspired programme.

First up was Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila Overture.

Based on Alexander Pushkin's poem of the same name. Glinka was inspired to compose this overture after attending a wedding dinner at the Russian court, where he was seated on a balcony. The sound of knives, forks, and plates clattering made a deep impression on him, and he decided to imitate this sound in the prelude.

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Craig Greene, Alina Orchestra Artist in ResidenceCraig Greene, Alina Orchestra Artist in Residence
Craig Greene, Alina Orchestra Artist in Residence

This exciting overture is one of Glinka's most famous pieces and as in this programme is often performed as a stand-alone piece. The joyous, light and lyrical theme dances with a fervent tempo, dynamic rhythm and bold accompaniment that leads to numerous pinnacles and a magnificent end.

The Highlight of the Evening

The highlight of the evening for me was Grieg’s Piano Concerto, op.16 in A minor featuring soloist Craig Greene (Artist in Residence). Every time I hear this piece I am reminded of the glorious sketch of Morecambe and Wise with Andre Previn (“I am playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”) which always gives me a little giggle, however, in all seriousness this work is a true masterpiece and one of Grieg’s most popular works. The piece starts with explosive and dramatic passion, followed by a romantic second movement of gentle and folk-like melody and piano runs up and down the keyboard that is complemented by the deep and beautiful tones of the cello. It culminates with a finale that settles into a simple, purely Norwegian tune.

Watching Greene lead this work on the piano reminded me of the hours of dedication it takes to become such an accomplished musician and we witnessed his sheer physical, mental and emotional energy put into a performance that was utterly beautiful and spine-tingling.

The Alina OrchestraThe Alina Orchestra
The Alina Orchestra

A Whole New Level

What particularly drew me to the concert was Beethoven’s Fifth. You can love a work just on hearing, but when I studied it, it took it to a whole new level for me. What can I possibly add, to that which hasn’t already been said a thousand times and more of one of the best-known compositions in classical music and one of the most frequently played symphonies?

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The powerful, stormy, almost angry familiar motif “Da-Da-Da-Dum" in the opening bars has drawn much attention over the years. It leaves a lasting impression and serves as the foundation for the rhythm and melody of the entire composition.

There are various moods and shifts in tone throughout, however, the most prominent mood that comes at the end, is one of hope, optimism, and triumph, a complete contrast to the beginning. This rousing symphony can’t help but raise and stir the emotions - and what a performance it was.

Speaking to members of the audience, it was lovely to see how excited they were to have The Alina Orchestra at their very own theatre in Aylesbury and what a perfect venue it was for such an occasion.

Funding cuts, increasing touring costs, rising energy prices, the continuing effects of pandemic closures, and the cost of living crisis are putting the future of orchestras in the UK in jeopardy. Musicians are currently experiencing the negative impact of these issues. It would be a tragedy to lose these fantastic events. Therefore, it is our responsibility to enable them to flourish by providing support to such wonderful events.

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Listening to classical music can be an enjoyable, profound, and joyous activity. Moreover, it has several benefits for our well-being. Studies have demonstrated that it can enhance memory, reduce stress, boost our mental health, and even improve academic performance in children.

Last Two Events of the Season

So if you haven’t done so before why not book now for the last two events of the season? ‘Summer Nights’ on Friday 10th May 2024, at 7.30 pm and ‘The Family Concert’ on Sunday 2nd June, at 3.00 pm, both at the wonderful Stables in Milton Keynes.

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