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Terrific, well-curated' Cambridge Classical Concert Series brings season to a close

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Cambridge Classical Concert Series - Michael Sanderling
Cambridge Classical Concert Series - Michael Sanderling

The last concert in this year's Cambridge Classical Concert Series underlines how important these events are in the city's musical calendar.

Last night was the final concert in the 2017-18 Classical Concert Series from Cambridge Live, at the city’s corn exchange venue. Before the main event, the launch for next year’s series saw interim chief executive Robert Sanderson and James Williams from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (the orchestra in residence for the last few years) make an impassioned plea for support from the people of Cambridge in order to ensure the continuation of this valued and important programme; reminding us that, beyond the wonderful concerts themselves, a whole host of superb outreach and engagement work takes place, working with young people and the wider community to inspire and instill an appreciation of music.

And tonight’s concert itself was another reminder of how powerful music can be. A Beethoven/Mozart/Beethoven triple-whammy of a programme, the Philharmonia – vigorously and somehow also delicately led by their principal conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen – treated us to a selection that combined great beauty with great power, cutting through the pall of a sultry summer evening and the afterglow of a rare England triumph in the football.

Beethoven’s Namensfeier Overture opened the performance, with the orchestra perfectly capturing the composer’s unique pairings of grandeur and melodiousness. Mozart’s popular Horn Concerto No. 4 was brought to life by 22-year-old soloist Katy Woolley in a deft and proficient, if sometimes rather emotionless performance that nevertheless captured the jaunty humour of the piece.

In part two of the concert we were treated to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 – a real treat, full of delicacy and drama, complicated syncopation, surprising light touches and rousing finales. This is a piece that bears repeated listening – infused with unexpected quirks, rhythms and stop/starts that make you sit up in astonishment. The Philharmonia navigated all this with the aplomb that you would expect, rounding off another successful classical concert series in fine style.

We are lucky to have such a terrific, well-curated series as this in our city, and it would be a great loss if it was jeopardised by financial constraints in the future. Tonight was testament to just how precious such events can be, and what a delight and a treat they are for all involved.

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