You Review: King’s Philharmonic

Reader Lewis Wolstanholme enjoys a programme of Britten and Mahler at King’s College, London

You Review: King’s Philharmonic

King’s Philharmonic is a relatively new orchestra, established in 2012. For this concert, it showed off its capabilities and flair in a challenging program: Britten’s Double Concerto followed by Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

The concert took place in the King’s College's Great Hall, which unfortunately didn’t harbour all the grandeur it’s name implies. The huge forces that Britten and Mahler demand swamped this ‘alright’ hall, and at times the acoustics were borderline abysmal. As a whole, the orchestra did well to maintain a well-balanced sound, but it was the percussion that suffered most of all. The dry sound of the snare and slapstick pierced through the sound world, whilst the bass drum and timpani’s sounded weak and unflattering.

Apart from brief moments where the soloists had been drowned out, the Double Concerto was a spectacular display from the orchestra and, most of all, brothers Iain and Mark Gibbs (violin and viola). Their extensive experience as performers prepared them well for this piece and they expressed treal virtuosity.

Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, one his real symphonic masterpieces, was another highly commendable rendition of a difficult work. The King's student conductor, Bertram Yap, did an excellent job of bringing out each individual melodic figure and textural nuance that made this most enjoyable. However, there was a persistent weakness in the cello section that was hard to ignore. Whether they were under-prepared, or just not up to the challenge, at their most crucial points they often fell apart and out of sync.

The King’s Philharmonic, and especially the young Bertram Yap, is an orchestra I will be keeping an eye out for.


– Lewis Wolstanholme, London



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