Solent Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral

MATURE Ghislaine McMullin.  Picture: Malcolm Wells (111204-9192)
MATURE Ghislaine McMullin. Picture: Malcolm Wells (111204-9192)

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The fashion for playing Elgar’s Cello Concerto in heart-on-sleeve style has become somewhat wearing at times, so it was a particular pleasure to hear 17-year-old Ghislaine McMullin deliver it more in the way of emotion recollected in tranquillity.

The performance was her prize for winning the Solent Symphony Orchestra Concerto Award at last year’s Portsmouth Music Festival, and she proved herself both a formidable technician and a deep-thinking musician.

Particularly memorable were the almost ghostly whispers of some rapid passages and the tender, yearning sadness of the adagio.

Sadly the orchestra was allowed to ride blaringly roughshod over the soloist in some such sections – but elsewhere in the concert, conductor Steve Tanner had a remarkable degree of success in balancing his forces in the cathedral’s tricky acoustics.

His handling of Beethoven’s Consecration Of The House overture was not only energetic but properly evocative of the composer’s inspiration in the music of Bach and Handel.

And Brahms’s third symphony, although not achieving consistent clarity of textures, had some wonderfully warm playing from strings and woodwind – and positive fire from the brass.

The Portsmouth-based orchestra, consisting of professional musicians and music teachers, has had to cancel its usual summer concert because of lack of funds but will be back at the cathedral on September 29 with music by Wagner, Beethoven and Shostakovich.