Royal Opera House comes to Queen’s Hall

Together, they presented an unforgettable, enthralling evening of music at the gala performance and Trinidad’s premiere of Le Gendre’s Chamber Suite, “Tales of the Islands” in the Queen’s Hall on Saturday.

Speaking briefly at the reception preceding the concert, orchestra director Hazel Province was almost fulsome in praise of the Queen’s Hall acoustics, declaring them to be better than any in London concert halls. On entering the hall one saw at once what prompted Province to enthuse over the acoustics, the “shell” was in place with only two large flower arrangements mounted too high to interfere with the sound to give a note a colour to the stark black-and-white d?cor, the black garments of the performers and black music stands.

The concert began with what has been called “Mozart’s least known masterpiece” the Divertimento in E flat for violin, viola and cello, K563. It was indeed ‘least known’ to this member of the audience, placing considerable demands on the ear to follow the set of variations listed in the programme notes.

However, thanks to the shell and the near perfect acoustics of Queen’s Hall, one could follow the themes, developments, the interplay between one instrument and another with no electronic distortions to distract from the crystal-clear sound, from sublime music played by true professionals.

We blushed for the audience that insisted on applauding at the end of each of the first five movements of the Divertimento, however, the musicians were unfazed, probably having been warned in advance of the “undeveloped world” customs in the Queen’s Hall . . . They took the interruptions with no more than a glance at each other in preparation for the next movement.

Le Gendre’s “Tales of the Islands” was interesting, exciting and (especially in the movement dominated by the calypso mode) well appreciated by the audience.

The playing, so far as one could tell in a completely unfamiliar work, was immaculate; however, Conrad Parris’ narration caused some problems for those (oneself included) not familiar with French patois; the straightforward narrative passages were clear enough (as one would expect of this seasoned actor) but the dialogue was slurred, admittedly as it would be in everyday speech, even so, it detracted from a total enjoyment of the new work.

After the bows, the presentations of bouquets to Le Gendre, Province and flowers to every member of the orchestra, the Chamber Ensemble delight us with two encores.

The first was a work for violin and cello (if one heard aright) by Ravel, the second a next tribute to Mozart, for clarinet and strings.


"Royal Opera House comes to Queen’s Hall"

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