DUPO Chamber’s final concert of Michaelmas promised a programme that could make for some great relief at the end of such a busy term. With lesser known repertoire, the orchestra offered a range of pieces and with the theme of “Hats, Tango and Shakespeare”, there was sure to be something to please everyone. Much of the audience no doubt had little idea of what to expect from this repertoire, and it was largely down to the orchestra to provide listeners with the first impression of these works.

The first piece on the programme, Arthur Honegger’s Pastorale d’été, began after a cue from conductor Hugo Jennings, with the low strings creating a warm and atmospheric tone, gradually filling the 12th century building of St Margaret’s church. Despite some slightly hesitant entries from the high woodwinds, the pace was brought together well by the soaring melodies in the violins. The work was executed well by the orchestra overall, with its effectiveness particularly owing to the solo flute and clarinet passages from Lottie Johnson and Josh Ward, respectively.

a particular favourite, abundant in lavish cello ostinati with delicate solo woodwind

A welcome change of pace was then brought to the concert by William Walton’s “As You Like It” suite arranged by Carl Davis. The short but sweet medley of pieces jumped erratically but nonetheless effectively between the different scenes from Laurence Olivier’s film of the Shakespeare play of the same name. The second movement, “Fountain Scene”, was a particular favourite of mine, abundant in lavish cello ostinati with delicate solo woodwinds on top. These solo entries were slightly too quiet, possibly owing to the difficult acoustics of the venue, which detracted slightly from the flow of the work. Perhaps slightly more confident entries would have made them even more effective.

After the interval we were treated to the first suite from Manuel de Falla’s ballet “El Sombrero De Tres Picos”. With a Mediterranean-Latin feel, the piece was effectively introduced with the announcing timpani and trumpet fanfare. This work was a refreshing change of tone and was made particularly effective through the impressive woodwind solos portraying the afternoon at a mill in Andalusia and the muted trumpet passages representing the dramatic Dance of the Miller’s Wife.

The penultimate work in the programme was one of Piazzolla’s lesser known works, “Tangazo”. The ominous and highly chromatic introduction provided by the low strings was let down a little by a lack of coordination, which resulted in quite a muddy texture originally. However, this issue was swiftly erected after the introduction of other instruments. Despite becoming slightly clumsy in timing and intonation in the sparser solo passages, the piece was most effective during its tutti section, with the witty and flamboyant work coming to an impressive close.

By way of linking their concerts together, DUPO have set out to perform all eight of Dvorak’s op. 46 Slavonic Dances by the end of the year. Tonight, we were treated to the third of the dances as an encore. As a work that is filled with tempo changes and ritardandos, the orchestra’s pace was controlled expertly by Jennings. For me, this piece was a personal highlight of the night and the piece’s lively character was an excellent choice for displaying the orchestra’s capability.

for those looking for performances that go well beyond the confines of core repertoire, I would highly recommend that you attend DUPO Chamber’s Epiphany Term concert

In conclusion, DUPO Chamber succeeded greatly in performing lesser known repertoire in an intimate venue. Therefore, for those looking for performances that go well beyond the confines of core repertoire, I would highly recommend that you attend DUPO Chamber’s Epiphany Term concert on the 10th of March in Castle Great Hall, if for no other reason than to see the rest of the dances performed at such a high standard for a student orchestra.