ISCA Ensemble closes season with Sidmouth concert

The ISCA Ensemble, with musical director Roger Hendy, gave the 2017 Joanna Leach Memorial Concert last Saturday in Sidmouth Parish Church, closing their current season and producing £500 from the retiring collection for the work of Hospiscare.

The ensemble started their programme enthusiastically with a vigorous performance of Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro.

The popular tumble of tunes poured out with great jollity.

The main work was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no 4, featuring pianist Andreas Boyde, who has built his reputation with electrifying performances for many of London’s leading orchestras.

Pianist and orchestra were excellent together, Boyde’s articulate keyboard work producing a crisp and clear performance throughout the piece; the ensemble showing they had the mastery of the necessary gradations of light and shade in their playing.

Each of the three movements had its high points.

Boyde’s cadenza playing was a consummate display of technical skill in the first.

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It was probably he also who set the more measured pace of the andante second which, with sympathetic orchestral support, gave it an added measure of gravitas to great effect.

The lively third went at a good brisk pace, finishing with a flourish of great exuberance from both pianist and orchestra.

After the interval came Haydn’s Symphony no 102.

The orchestra developed the vigorous main section in exemplary fashion, as they did with the intricate and elegant adagio movement which followed.

The minuet movement danced playfully as it should before the almost unexpectedly jaunty finale brought the piece to an end.

The final work was Dvorak’s Czech suite, a set of pieces inspired by the folk music of his homeland.

The orchestra excelled here too.

The prelude was a smooth and graceful pastoral setting reminiscent of the gentle drone of bagpipes.

In the polka, the players developed the dance from its slow beginning to a lively end.

The minuet presented rounds of happy country dances.

The beautiful Romance gently led to the finale, a furiant which built up to an energetic and boisterous conclusion to the work, the concert and a successful season. Stephen Huyshe-Shires