To be honest, I don’t think you will find a better performance of Benjamin Britten’s Frank Bridge variations than this one. You see, the Kreisler String Orchestra was a 17 piece orchestra with no conductor. Our very unique way of working meant that there was no dominating influence among its players. This is very rarely the case with other condcutorless chamber ensembles, which typically have a dominating figure in its leader. Our working and performing structure made for a unique creative experience. A very rare thing in orchestral settings. Conducted orchestras have a hierarchical structure that dictates where the musical expression originates. Leaders are followed. Conductors are followed. The rest do the following. This undermines the creative input of the players. The same could be said of businesses and institutions whose workforce is rarely given the platform for creative solutions. The truth is that most conductors can’t get the best out of an orchestra (there are exceptions like, Simon Rattle or Daniele Gatti, Leonard Bernstein—these are the only three I can think of who have conductor orchestras I have played in). A lot of the “famous” conductors actually get in the way and make the orchestra sound worse than they would otherwise be. But like a patriarchy, everyone subscribes to the structure… the followers like following and the leaders like following. Quite often it makes for a nervous and uncommitted performance.
So if you have not visited this site or heard the Kreisler String Orchestra before, you are in for a treat. Just have a listen to this wonderful and not often performed piece: Benjamin Britten’s Frank Bridge Variations… I still just CAN’T believe that in 15 years we received £0 of Arts Council funding! £0! We had a great team of players, none better that Mike Thomas. He was, at the time, the first violinist in the Brodsky Quartet. He was the best violinist I have ever worked with. Another comparable player was Andrew Watkinson of the Endellion Quartet. I loved performing with him too. Another recording we made was the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony which received an outstanding review from BBC radio’s ‘Record Review‘.