Friday, March 07, 2008


Essex Concert Orchestra


Did you see Classical Star on BBC2 last summer ? Two of the nicest contestants – now happily engaged to be married – played a gig in Chelmsford last week with the enterprising Essex Chamber Orchestra, conducted on this occasion by Richard Brittain.

Ben MacDougall played the Flight of the Bumble Bee twice, and more interestingly, the Galway arrangement of the Rodrigo Fantasia, which caught the melancholy of the original, and also had enormous energy in the Cadenza and the Canario finale. Good support from the orchestra too, especially the woodwind. Only one movement of Mozart, but here too a solid orchestral sound.

Ben's own composition, Svalbard, included an interesting flute part, but spotlighted the violin of Jeanine Thorpe in a very listenable few minutes which would not have been out of place in Fenton's score for Life in the Freezer.

Jeanine also played Thais, and the second Beethoven Romance. Her tone was pure and cool, her assured interpretation not always matched by the orchestra.

The concert was bookended by Bach and Handel, and Ben sent us on our way with a glorious Syrinx.

The Concert Orchestra remain resolutely upbeat, but although better attended than last year's visit to the County Town, the audience was still embarrassingly small.

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