The Beethoven concert (First and Sixth Symphonies) under the baton of Pierino Gamba at Bulawayo City Hall last night constituted an important point in the maturity of the Municipal Orchestra.
Mr. Gamba is a star conductor and, despite his youth, a widely-experienced one. The quality of his sensibility was shown in a rigorous mastery of detail which obscured neither the bony strength nor rousing freshness of his readings.
The performance of the first Symphony must be accounted one of the finest things the orchestra has done. Every section met Mr. Gamba’s demands unstintingly. The lively rthymic drive, crisp accents and sforzandi, generous weight of tone in the tuttis, made for a muscular performance full of zest and authority.
If the Pastoral was slightly less striking, the fault is partly Beethoven’s. The structure of the piece is subtler and more complex. The melodies are seldom as singable, and the mood of introspective ecstacy, far more difficult to sustain than the robust good spirits of the first symphony.
In the outer movements the orchestra took some time to settle into the tempi Mr. Gamba wanted, but otherwise responded with sensitivity and precision to his firm direction. The subtly-shifting textures of the slow movement were depicted with enormous sureness of purpose, by conductor and players alike – a most difficult movement.
In the general success, a few woodwind lapses can be overlooked. Congratulations are due all round. I was especially glad Mr. Gamba did all repeats in the First Symphony – the musical gain is obvious.