FOR their last concert until 2020, Peebles Orchestra gave an excellent performance on November 16. Jo Dubé was there.

Peebles Orchestra treated us to a really special show at their annual November concert on Saturday.

The enthusiasm and delight of the players and the conductor really came through and it was a very enjoyable evening. The four short pieces in the first half had a very talkative feel running through them.

In Libertango by Piazolla, Buenos Aires' most famous composer, multiple soloists passed the tune backwards and forwards against a pizzicato accompaniment, giving an impression of rich conversation.

Carlos Gardel was a famous tango singer and the night's second piece was an orchestrated arrangement of one of his most popular ballads, El dia que me quieras. The clarinet solo in this piece was impeccable. Don't miss the orchestra's next concert in May to hear more from Sarah Chapman!

Rachmaninov's Vocalise was originally composed as a wordless song, the last of a set of fourteen songs. It works very well as an orchestral piece with dialogues between the flute and bassoon and the clarinet and French horn.

The final piece before the interval, La Valse, is not performed very often and is particularly challenging for an amateur orchestra. Arising out of Ravel's love for Viennese waltzes, this piece is like standing in the chaos of a noisy ballroom, with doors opening and shutting to give bright flashes of waltz melodies, not all of which are harmonious. It's a challenging piece to listen to as well as to play, and Saturday's performance was absolutely spot on.

After the interval, we were first treated to a lullaby in the form of Dvorak's Nocturne in B major, a piece played only by the strings of the orchestra. It's a very unchanging piece, with an almost continuous melody in the first violins and a very steady pizzicato bass accompaniment from the cellos. This results in quite a soporific piece of music, very appropriately for a nocturne! But the highlight was very definitely Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony.

When first performed this was his first symphony in a decade, and it was very popular with its first audiences, albeit less so with the critics. It feels as though we are being taken on a tour through the composer's emotions, and even within each movement these can change quite dramatically. There were a number of soloists in this piece and everyone played beautifully, enhancing each others' performances and producing a whole even greater than the sum of the parts, although the parts themselves were all impressive.

This concert has come as the culmination of a number of new ventures for the orchestra, from ensemble playing at local events to a very successful Come and Sing as part of the Creative Peebles Festival.

They are clearly playing at a very high standard and the next concert in May is not to be missed. Peebles Orchestra's next concert is on Saturday 16th May 2020, 7.30pm in Kingsland School, Peebles, and features local soloist Sarah Chapman in Finzi's clarinet concerto, with Beethoven's 3rd Symphony (Eroica).

Play with us! Join the Orchestra For All, a short series of three rehearsals and a concert, open to all players of any ability and experience. Rehearsals on Wednesday, February 12, 19 and 26, 2020, 7.30pm in St Joseph's Neighbourhood Centre, Peebles; concert on Saturday, February 29, 2020, 3pm in the School Brae Hub, Peebles.

Jo Dubé