It has to be said the Freddie Mercury is a true legend, I grew up singing Queen songs rather than nursery rhymes and I know I am not alone, and now, without any real encouragement, my eldest daughter has become a huge fan also. So when we saw the Freddie Mercury Project advertised both of us were really excited to go and see what it was all about.
We were kindly asked to review The Freddie Mercury Project from Sinfonia Cymru (a young, talented and innovative orchestra in Wales) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and didn’t know what to expect from either the orchestra or the venue, but as soon as the musicians entered the room I realised this was to be something special, and I wasn’t disappointed.
From the very first notes the room filled with atmosphere and emotion, I was instantly impressed by the skill and the attention to detail that the orchestra had, the togetherness and how attentive they all were. There was an element of fun as well and some of the girls were rather enthusiastic on that section of Bohemian Rhapsody that has everyone head banging along, did I mention that Sinfonia Cymru is described as ‘progressive’? I guess they have to be to take on Mr Mercury’s incredible songs, from Bicycle Race, including bicycle bells, to Love of my Life which gave me chills, down to who Wants to Live Forever which was by far my favourite piece played, there wasn’t a thing that didn’t work in my opinion.
I was a little concerned about the fact that nobody would be singing at this show, it was purely music and I wondered how Freddie Mercury’s showmanship could ever be replicated. Well that was left to Vlad Maistorovici, who as composer, conductor and violin soloist had his work cut out for him, however I think he did an outstanding job, of not only pulling the whole orchestra together, in time, with enthusiasm, but he also played many of the solo parts of the songs that Freddie would have belted out, with his violin alone. I honestly don’t know how else to explain it other than he did it justice and I think Freddie would have been impressed!
This team of musicians also included the very talented pianist Robin Green and Harry Cameron-Penny on the clarinet who was mesmerising to watch, both incredible musicians and both adding something unique to the whole ensemble. The piano sections of Bohemian Rhapsody were spot on and my girl chatted excitedly about this at the end, she couldn’t believe how it sounded exactly as it does on the recordings, he even played the piano in an unusual way at one point. Harry gave an air of confidence that made me feel as though he didn’t have to put any effort into his solo performances, making it comfortable and entertaining to watch, it was almost as if he just made it up as he went and still sounded flawless, a real talent.
I won’t pretend to know if the notes were all spot on as I am not musical myself, but I do know that as someone who wasn’t sure what to expect from an orchestra playing Freddie Mercury’s songs, I was absolutely blown away by every single part of the show, Vlad was incredible and brought Freddie’s spirit to life momentarily for me, Robin and Harry were a pleasure to watch/listen to, and we enjoyed it so much that I bought tickets for the next night at The Riverfront theatre. This time taking my Dad (who is a big Queen fan) and my youngest daughter, and they both loved the show as well! I think this is a true testament to Sinfonia Cymru as all ages were clearly entertained.
I think we witnessed something special in the Freddie Mercury Project, and think that the effort and skill poured into this production did not fail to impress. The standing ovation at both shows we went to echoed this as well I think.
Thank you Sinfonia Cymru!