City Of London Sinfonia
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Concert review by John Watson
What superb timing – a concert celebrating a heroic struggle against the deep freeze of the Antarctic was staged just before the most severe weather of the winter hit the West Midlands.
The performance on Friday by the City Of London Sinfonia, conducted by the excellent Stephen Layton, was dominated by the masterly compositions of Ralph Vaughan Williams. It also featured the premiere of a work by Cecilia McDowall, honouring the bravery of the ill-fated Captain Scott and his expedition team.
The performance opened with music written by Vaughan Williams for the 1948 film Scott Of The Antarctic, paving the way for a stirring performance of the concert masterpiece Vaughan Williams created from elements of his film score Sinfonia Antartica.
As the orchestra played, photographs taken on the British Antarctic Expedition from 1910-13 were projected on a screen. McDowall's evocative new composition Seventy Degrees Below Zero was performed between the Vaughan Williams works.