Janus Ensemble Concert: Stravinsky, Arnold, Mozart
St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury
9th July 2016
The final concert of Janus Ensemble’s 2015/16 season was given in the gloriously English Baroque milieu of Hawksmoor’s St. George’s Bloomsbury. Grandeur of design was met in clever programming of Arnold, Stravinsky and a crowning Mozart.
Arnold’s Serenade for Small Orchestra Op.26 was a well-judged choice given the orchestra’s size and merits. Leader Venetia Jollands and cello soloist Thomas Marlin brought luscious clarity to the floating theme of the opening Allegretto. The following Andante con Moto introduced a sense of stylish filmic nostalgia, a touch of Hitchcockian suspense perhaps in the intimacy of a question raised, then answered with lush arching string passages. The Allegro Vivace unleashed a rhythmically alert percussive playfulness well suited to the orchestra’s youthful individualism. This was an engagingly complex piece played with panache and a recognisably British self-mocking swagger at the finish.
The final piece, Mozart’s ‘Prague’ Symphony No.38 gave full rein to the orchestra’s evident enjoyment in playing together. The symphony’s abundance of invention, its ‘straining at the bit’ in relation to form, makes it well suited for interpretation by such ferociously energised young players. At times a tumultuous work, this ensemble does tumult excellently. Conductor Michael Coleby maintained the equilibrium between subtleties of string conversations, flute and clarinet colourations, the many dissonant motifs, and the rock’n roll pulsations galloping forwards beneath it all.
An ensemble of assured young musicians having a ball, a gorgeous venue, un-sung composers brought lovingly to light – all for a fiver on the door!