Three Classical-period works were on offer for tonight’s programme in the Sheffield International Concert Season: Haydn’s Symphony No. 44 ‘Trauer’, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 ‘Turkish’, and Schubert’s Symphony No. 5.
As the programme note mentioned, the Haydn symphony’s ‘Sturm und Drang’ (storm and stress) association is somewhat incidental, yet the work displays a powerful expressiveness that would later become customary among the symphonies of his pupil, Beethoven.
Indeed, there was a Beethovenian touch to how tonight’s director, Italian violinist Giovanni Guzzo, handled proceedings, with a bold and romantic performance emanating from the small forces that form the Camerata.
In handling the rapid tempos Guzzo demanded, the virtuosity from the orchestra was impressive, but perhaps restraint could have been shown at times to allow the listener to absorb and reflect on some of the symphony’s more intricate detail.
Guzzo was the soloist in the violin concerto, playing it with some bravura.
A convincing Mozart interpretation balances a singing tone on one hand with dramatic contrasts on the other; occasionally Guzzo’s showmanship could have been sacrificed to achieve these demands, drawing in the indulging listener.
Nevertheless, the orchestra was sensitive in its accompaniment, conveying a strong sense of stylistic understanding and a clear enjoyment in playing this music.
What is most impressive is the togetherness of the ensemble in spite of a lack of conductor.
This quality came to the fore in the Schubert, which was the highlight of a fantastic programme. Indeed, this worthily received an enthusiastic reception from the audience.