The Scotsman 16th April 2009
Edinburgh Youth Orchestra **** St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral
By SUSAN NICKALLS
THE last of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra’s Spring concerts drew a capacity audience to hear a varied and ambitious programme which highlighted the considerable abilities of these young musicians.
Close to 100 players delivered a powerful and well-paced performance of Stravinsky’s The Firebird: Ballet Suite. At full-strength the EYO are a force to be reckoned with and it was only in some of the more exposed areas that the occasional weakness was to be found.
In Khachaturian’s Adagio from Spartacus, the laid-back rhythms often came adrift although the string sound was solid throughout. Prokofiev’s musical tale for children, Peter and the Wolf, is popular with audiences of all ages, and the EYO, with narrator Julian Lloyd Webber, gave an animated and often humorous performance. The soloists, who all played superbly, wore hats to indicate their particular character, with conductor En Sao entering into the spirit of things by wearing a wolf hat.
Lloyd Webber then took up his cello to play David Horne’s rather lightweight arrangement of Peter Maxwell Davies’s piano interlude Farewell to Stromness for cello and string orchestra. The lilting melody suited the mellifluous tones of Lloyd Webber’s cello, which were spun like gold in the bright acoustics, but this was often undermined by an accompaniment which tended to flatten rather than lift the tune.
The Dundee Courier April 2009
Perth Concert 13th April
Youth Orchestra in fine form
By even the most exalted standards the performance by the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra in Perth Concert Hall yesterday was first class in all departments.
They began with the adagio from Khachaturian’s ballet Spartacus. Immediately, the confidence of the violins struck one, then the superb sound of the oboe, clarinet and flute solos. Working with these, conductor En Shao whipped up a tremendous, emotional, colourful climax.
Next came Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with Julian Lloyd Webber as narrator. As a nice touch the winds who represent the characters had masks on top of their heads: bird, duck, cat, wolf as one goes down the score. The piece was finely played and characterised. En Shao got in on the act when the wolf was captured by the tail, shaking the tails of his white tie and tails at Julian Lloyd Webber. It delighted the children in the audience, including the three in front of me who conducted and danced in their seats.
Back in his day job, as Julian Lloyd Webber quipped, he played a beautiful arrangement by David Horne for solo cello and strings of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s piano piece Farewell to Stromness. It was an effective and affecting piece, evoking such applause from the audience that he responded with an encore: the serenata from Britten’s First Cello Suite.