This concert showcased the precision and expressive power of The Metropolitan Orchestra Strings, both on their own and in collaboration with successful tenor Daniel Belle. The flexibility of TMO strings and this singer enabled the programme to shift smoothly from a late nineteenth century work for strings through to popular opera and musical theatre pieces delivered with a comfortable cabaret feel.
TMO strings explored the music of Czech composer Josef Suk in his lush and mostly well-humoured Serenade in E flat major Op 6 (1892). They opened this concert with a consistently rich and well balanced sound across the ensemble.
Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams ensured the work was introduced to us with a high level of elegance and finesse. There was a sensible eloquence and shaping of phrases throughout which made the sunny and energetic moments of this work delightfully accessible for the listeners.
This work’s Adagio movement reached us with beautiful stillness, being the first of several poignant moments of instrumental and vocal stillness in this concert. The delivery of this work’s joyous finale led us into interval, after which the focused voice and dramatic presence of Daniel Belle would be heard over the sympathetic and stunning accompaniment of TMO strings.
Daniel Belle presented blockbuster works in powerhouse performances, alternating between his two specialties, opera and musical theatre. Beginning with the much loved crossover
work from Ennio Morricone, Nella Fantasia, Belle continually provided us with a formidable range of colour and characterisation.
Smooth manipulation of his vocal resources and experience delivered a mixture of opera arias and musical theatre numbers which sat more than comfortably beside each other. In this important blend, TMO’s string players were consistently secure, managing the stylistic and expressive contrasts with ease.
Arrangements for TMO strings by Sarah-Grace Williams and Sean Moloney preserved all the clarity and impact of the original full orchestral scorings as Daniel Belle took us to well known scenarios from operas or musical theatre repertoire with equal ease.
This half of the concert contained a succession of highlights, engagingly introduced by Daniel. Here, the singer of The TenTenors fame who recently toured internationally with a production of Les Misérables performed with impressive ensemble effect with TMO Strings. The sequence of vocal works was separated halfway by more fine communication for string orchestra alone, in the form of the intermezzo from Mascagini’s opera Cavaleria Rusticana.
Daniel Belle upheld The Ten Tenors’ tradition of a high voice wowing audiences with his singing of the well-known O Solo Mio
and later Vesti la giubba from Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci. In a complete switch to contemporary musical theatre, his singing of Anthem from Chess as well as Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera were penetrating moments of stage stillness.
From Les Misérables, Belle’s rendering of Bring Him Home was a breathtaking example of vocal and dramatic performance. And to top the evening off his encore to conclude the evening was nothing
less than a solid and haunting ‘Nessun Dorma’ from Puccini’s Turandot.
This collaboration of hard working and successful musicians was an outstanding entertainment. Hopefully we will see the continuance of vocal stars appearing with TMO musicians at future Met concerts.
TMO’s Met Concert series returns to the Eugene Goossens Hall on Aug 25 with an exciting programme of fiery Russian works. Titled ‘Fever’, Sarah-Grace Williams and TMO will be joined by pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska for what promises to be a formidable performance of Shostakovich’s second piano concerto.