The Durham University Classical Ensemble’s concert in the Music Department’s Concert Room was a musical feast celebrating some of the finest works from the Baroque and Classical period. This was conductor Ryan Bunce’s debut with the group and he truly triumphed in leading the ensemble to success in their first concert of the academic year. Bunce had prepared an interesting programme featuring works by the familiar Mozart and Haydn with the focal point of the evening a symphony by the lesser known composer Friedrich Witt.
Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro gave a confident opening to the concert. The string sections truly shined in their ability to master Mozart’s difficult writing with the brass and woodwind playing with great strength and clarity. On the whole the performance was together but perhaps there could have been more definition in dynamics, which would have enhanced the performance. However, this did not detract from a great performance of a much loved classic.

Concluding the first half was Corelli’s Concerto Grosso No. 8 where soloists Robert Cavaye and Vlada Oulitskaia played beautifully with great sensitivity. Robert Cavaye particularly excelled with his highly melodic playing as he led the orchestra brilliantly. There was a great change of mood in this piece as the forces were reduced to just the strings. There was a great balance between the two solo parts and the rest of the ensemble as they gave a highly enjoyable performance.

The Second half opened with Haydn’s Symphony No. 70. This performance was full of character and there was a great orchestral colour to be found, particularly in the first movement. There was considerable attention to detail in this interpretation with Bunce’s dynamic control of the orchestra evident throughout. The understanding of the various moods created in this work provided a performance that was thoroughly enjoyable. This was not a perfect performance but I felt that the essence of the piece was greatly captured by the entire ensemble.
Friedrich Witt’s Symphony No. 6 “Alla Turca” was not a work that myself or many of the audience were familiar with but what a treat it was. Here the orchestra truly excelled in their ability to perform this music that had a great energy and drive throughout. There was great ensemble playing as the full forces joined together for an emphatic first movement. This was truly the climax of the concert with the orchestra sounding at its best. The woodwind and brass in the 2nd Movement particularly stood out with Clarinettist Asher Glinsman performing solos with great confidence and melodic line. The concert ended with a final triumphant movement with the full forces of the orchestra uniting to bring the concert to a triumphant close.

Overall, this concert was a great success and proved that the Classical Ensemble are a great asset to the music scene in Durham. They played with great confidence and were ably led by Ryan Bunce. Next term they have a concert on the 3rd March at St Oswald’s Church and it is definitely not to be missed.