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New Queen’s Hall Orchestra/John Farrer

Weber Oberon – Overture
Brahms Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73
Elgar Salut d’Amour, Op.12
Mozart The Marriage of Figaro – Overture
Serenade for thirteen wind instruments (K361) - Finale

Recorded on 29 January 2005 at a concert in Fairfield Halls, Croydon
NQHO CD GLM/NQ-1-01 [68 minutes]

The New Queen’s Hall Orchestra uses instruments of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – narrow-bore brass & gut strings – seeking more recent authenticity in the wake of the baroque-driven performance practice movement. They are uninterested in perfection and the squeaky clean backgrounds expected of studio recordings, and also have joined the search for an acoustically true recording technique (this reminded me of the Nimbus single microphone experiment) and an approach to performance which values expressive phrasing and individuality above regimented precision.

This live concert recording has a warm sound and Brahms 2 is generally more relaxed than the usual harder driven accounts, notably so in the finale. The Oberon overture has a rare bloom and is a memorable account of a once very popular overture (overtures used to be the standard openers for symphony concerts, less often nowadays).

The balance is throughout unusually successful and one senses not only that we hear more internal parts than often, but that the orchestra is listening to itself too.

Salut d’Amour is a reminder of popular music at the times of the Queen's Hall itself. The American conductor John Farrer encourages his musicians to give of their best without appearing to hector them, and the video supports that impression.

The extras on this enhanced CD give a cameo of rehearsal; perhaps that aspect might be usefully increased in future releases? John Boyden and John Farrer with members of the orchestra give us a manifesto of the NQHO’s philosophy and the booklet notes include extensive material from Colin Anderson of The Classical Source.

I look forward to an opportunity to hear live at one of their future concerts.

Link: New Queen's Hall Orchestra

© Peter Grahame Woolf