Vienna by Candlelight
The Locrian Ensemble
Civic Theatre 19th September
Jim Hutchon was in the stalls ...
The Locrian Ensemble transported us from a damp Chelmsford Saturday into the lush Imperial world of Vienna, complete with powdered wigs and tights set in a classical statuary backdrop. But the light-heartedness of the setting, or the jokey anecdotes, fooled no-one, this is a group that is serious about its music and its expression.
The Ensemble comes together for these ‘Vienna by Candlelight’ concerts, although all the members are sought after soloists in their own right. They are led by Rita Manning, formerly leader of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Orchestra, who was able to breathe unexpected vibrancy into such pot-boilers as Lehar’s Gypsy Fiddles. Founder and principal raconteur of the Ensemble is cellist Justin Pearson who is also artistic director of the Nationl Symphony Orchestra.
The music was a varied selection of quite easy listening, mainly by Mozart, Strauss, Vivaldi and Lehar, although all were performed with a freshness and vivacity which belied their clichéd status. Guest soprano ‘the pocket diva’ Annette Wardell took on three solos with clarity and a warmth of expression, including the fiendish Queen of the Night’s aria from the Magic Flute. Other guest soloists included the very talented Irish harpist Jean Kelly and short sequences from a pair of dance champions, Shaun Christie and Emma Munbodhowa, who performed, of course, immaculate waltzes, as well as rhumba and cha cha.
Audience participation was a short lollipop which included burst paper bags to emulate the cannons in a truncated '1812' and an encouragement from the soprano to join in ‘Vilia Oh Vilia’.