Updated: Friday, 20th July 2018 @ 2:02pm

Review: Manchester Camerata’s Love and Death @ Manchester Cathedral

Review: Manchester Camerata’s Love and Death @ Manchester Cathedral

By Eve Commander

The ambitious premise of Manchester Camerata’s concert on Saturday was to treat listeners to a journey of Love and Death.

The youthful players, led by their equally fresh-faced musical leader, Giovanni Guzzo, took on this weighty task under the arched rafters of Manchester’s stunning cathedral and managed to raise the roof.

Beginning with the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, written in homage to his tempestuous lover Alma Schindler, their program moved to Mozart’s Violin Concerto Number 5, composed in 1775, a year in which he wrote prolifically for the much-loved instrument.

To finish they returned to Mahler and his arrangement of Franz Schubert’s morbid string quartet Death and the Maiden.  

A pop-up gin bar had been provided before the concert and the infamously-depressing spirit seemed an appropriate accompaniment to the sighing strings of Mahler’s famous fourth movement.

Written at the turn of the 19th century among the political turmoil caused by the imminent collapse of Vienna’s aristocracy, possibly as a love token to his wife Alma, Manchester Camerata evoked the air of ethereal beauty and yearning which characterises the piece.

The accomplished playing by the strings, complimented by the arpeggios of the harp, paved the way for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5 in A Major where Manchester Camerata musical director Giovanni Guzzo stepped forward as soloist and conductor.

Turning at times to face the audience and others to beam at his players, he expertly led the orchestra through the finely balanced Allegro, his charisma shining through as they played the piece’s rapturous Adagio before romping through to the playful Turkish-style final movement.

Schubert’s extraordinary 14th string quartet, Death and the Maiden, provided a sombre and salient end to the evening.

Its four movements cast in minor keys, reverberated hauntingly around the Cathedral as Mahler’s arrangement intensified its dark atmosphere.

Manchester Camerata go on to a performance in Colne but the air of resignation which they managed to convey in this piece, written as Schubert contracted the first symptoms of syphilis which would eventually kill him, will linger in the Cathedral’s eaves for a while longer.

Image courtesy of Manchester Camerata via YouTube, with thanks

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