Saturday, March 10, 2012

Essex Symphony Orchestra

Essex Symphony Orchestra at Christ Church

The Storr is a spectacular rocky hill on the Isle of Skye. It was the inspiration for Matthew Taylor's symphonic poem, commissioned by the Essex Symphony Orchestra to celebrate their sixtieth anniversary.
Not an easy climb, and a challenging workout for the orchestra, led by Philippa Barton and conducted by Tom Hammond, who was the driving force behind the commission. But it was an impressive sound picture, an ever-changing panorama with lyrical passages on the flute and a vigorous closing fugue, a depiction of the vista from the peak.
Part of the raison d'etre of "Storr" was to create a companion piece to Brahms' Fourth Symphony, completing the ESO's programming of the cycle. Some very polished playing here, from the confident conversation of the strings in the opening Allegro to the bold build-up of the Finale [energico e passionato] through the sheer fun of the Scherzo, with a full, colourful orchestral palette: three basses and a contrabassoon at one extreme and a plucky triangle at the other.
The concert opened with Bach's Third Orchestral Suite: a lilting Gigue to end, after the bright resounding brass and urgent strings of the Overture.

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