Enescu, Symphony No. 4, realized by Pascal Bentoiu, UK première; Mahler, Blumine; Bartók, Romanian Folk Dances; Schubert, Andante from Symphony No 10, realized by Brian Newbould:

“Fascinating programming from the Oberon Symphony Orchestra and a major coup to present the UK premiere of George Enescu’s Fourth Symphony in its completion by Pascal Bentoiu. The rest of the concert was no less stimulating, the Romanian element honoured in Bartók’s Folk Dances, incompletion being present in the Schubert/Newbould, and Symphonies in a transient state reflected in Blumine…”

“Blumine should get out more. Performances as affectionate as this convince the listener so: the trumpet solos were sensitively done, the strings beautifully balanced, and the church acoustic well-judged by Samuel Draper…”

“Tender moments (a gentle clarinet in particular) brought a real Schubertian glow…”

“Post-interval, the meat of the evening found the Oberon players giving their very best in Enescu’s challenging writing. Draper did well to lead us through the dense textures, negotiating the dark drama with precision, his beat a model of clarity.”

“Draper again paced the music so that the climax was as convincing as it was inevitable.”

Colin Clarke, Classical Source

Full review can be read HERE

“Samuel Draper duly brought out the drama and pensiveness of its main themes, then found no mean eloquence in the climactic stages prior to a brutal descent into silence.”

“…an intensifying processional Draper controlled superbly while ensuring the melismatic solo writing was accorded necessary expressive space.”

“a reading of real conviction and insight”

“Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances elided keenly between incisiveness and elegance.”

Richard Whitehouse, arcana

Full review can be read HERE

Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5:

“Having steered an involving course between its yearning and plaintive main themes, Draper infused the first movement’s development with a purposeful momentum so that the climactic reprise unfolded as an arc of decreasing intensity towards a coda of aching suspense. Trenchant in forward motion, the scherzo was dispatched with a keen irony…”

“…a slow movement which eschewed widescreen emotional expression for intense inwardness, not least with the chorale-like transformation of its initial theme in a central passage of real eloquence. Nor was the ensuing climax found wanting, as Draper secured a searing clarity across the strings prior to a wistfully resigned close. Even finer was the finale: the hardest movement to bring off, its tempo changes worked ably in terms of a cumulative overall structure – making nonsense of any claim it lacks formal focus; with a palpable emergence from the restless searching at its centre towards an apotheosis which evinced the fraught inevitability that was surely intended. The closing bars then drove home the work’s defiantly individual stance with bracing resolve.”

“A gripping account of a piece”

Read full review

Richard Whitehouse (Grammophone), arcana

Langgaard, Symphony No. 4:

“Samuel Draper brought out its fatalistic defiance in full measure, while ensuring a seamless transition into the plaintive second main theme…”

“…Draper as attentive to the geyser-like eruptions on strings and woodwinds at its apex as to the spellbinding transition when an oboe unfolds a plangent melodic line (eloquently played) over a string dissonance of inward intensity.”

“Draper…secured…a final build-up in which dread and decisiveness were as one.”

Richard Whitehouse (Grammophone), Classical Source

Grieg, Peer Gynt:

“rapturously expressive”

“[the] indelible main melody was enticingly rendered without becoming cloying”

Richard Whitehouse (Grammophone), Classical Source

Sibelius, Symphony No. 5

“Draper balanced ideally between the surging impetus and airborne rapture of its main themes”

“…neither the glowing affirmation of its coda nor the decisiveness of those six closing chords (rightly taken in tempo) could be gainsaid.”

Richard Whitehouse (Grammophone), Classical Source

Dvořák, Cello Concerto:

“Samuel Draper… mastermind[ed] a sublime conclusion”

Tim Higgins, Performance Reviewed

Beethoven, Symphony No. 6:

“Draper uses the woodwind to particularly powerful effect. From drawn out harmony to momentary birdsong, the woodwind was utilised magnificently and rose to every challenge, drawing generous, even rapturous applause”

Tim Higgins, Performance Reviewed

“highly talented”

Mike Allen, Portsmouth News

“Samuel Draper… enhanced an already high reputation in the Summer Days suite by Eric Coates… he showed a light, affectionate touch while still taking it seriously in terms of pointed rhythms, supple phrasing and delicate balance, securing fine woodwind playing in particular.”

Mike Allen, Petersfield Post