CUCO Three Impressionists Concert Review

We are delighted that our 25th October CUCO concert received a 9/10 review from The Cambridge Student. The review was published in hard print, a scan of which can be seen above.

The review reads:

In an evening of colour, emotion and energy, the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra (CUCO) took us on a journey through the magic and imagination of French Impression, featuring music from Ravel, Francaix and Ibert. Throughout the concert, not only did the orchestra, under the direction of Peter Stark, perform with great character and rhythmic precision, but the soloist, Rees Webster, also showed artistry and incredible skill by bringing Francaix’s oboe concerto ‘l’Horloge de Flore’ to life.

Beginning with Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin, CUCO demonstrated their wide palette of tonal colour, with their sensitivity to dynamics and ensemble. The interplay between the different section of the orchestra, passing the meandering melodies back and forth were executed with refined elegance. Though a little more time could sometimes have been afforded between phrases to soak in the complex harmonies, and even more prominence could have been given to the harp, CUCO have clearly explored a variety of characters. Intense emotional episodes, particularly poignant and melancholic in Ravel’s Pavane, were juxtaposed with energetic drive and light-hearted fun, captured especially through the crispness of the strings’ pizzicato scenes.

Francaix’s Oboe Concerto ‘l’Horloge de Flore’ added yet another colourful dimension to the concert, foregrounding oboe soloists Rees Webster and his spell-binding interpretation, accompanied by the chamber orchestra. The interaction between the soloist and orchestra was performed with clarity and balance. Attention to articulation from both oboist and orchestra resulted in a light, dance-like accompaniment from which the soloist was able to establish and authoritative, yet magical voice.

Ibert’s Divertissement made for a dramatic opening after the interval, with the percussion particularly adding to the already commanding sound of the strings. The mournful passages of the ‘Nocturne’ were punctuated by many moments of musical parody. As the piece raced towards its ending the merriment was evident in the enthusiastic col legno performed by the cellos and the unorthodox whistle deployed by the conductor.

Another Ravel composition, the Ma Mere l’Oye suite, closed the concert. Although the suite is comprised of deceptively simple pieces inspired by French children’s stories, the rich tonal variation arising from the balance of each section clearly testified to the skill of both CUCO and Peter Stark. The violins, barring some initial hesitancy in reaching the high notes, ultimately provided some of the most beautifully delicate and refined sounds of the evening. A performance that shows promise for the rest of the term.


Registered Charity No. 1149534

Cambridge University Musical Society
West Road Concert Hall
11 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP
Principal Guest Conductor
Sir Roger Norrington CBE
CUMS Conductor Laureate
Stephen Cleobury CBE
Director, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
Martin Ennis
Artistic Advisor
Sian Edwards
Associate Directors, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
David Lowe, Nicholas Mulroy