Thursday, November 15, 2012


at King Edward VI School

What better way to herald a sixtieth anniversary than Beethoven's mighty Ninth ? The Essex Symphony Orchestra joined forces with Felsted Choral Society, and four excellent soloists, and, just this once, moved back to their old home at the Grammar School for this celebratory concert.

There was a Gluck overture, too, plus Byrd and a charming new madrigal by Roger Lawrence, whose choir this is, two choral works celebrating the two Elizabeths.

But the Choral Symphony was the climax. Not perhaps the best performance they've given under Tom Hammond's direction, though after a tentative start some aggressive percussion injected excitement into the opening Allegro. Well sustained brass and woodwind in the carefully controlled Scherzo, and serene, expansive strings in the Adagio.

And then the famous marathon Finale, reinforcements to the left of us, with Ashley Mercer's impressive intervention, and to the right of us with three more percussionists, and both choir and orchestra rising to the occasion, although in this unforgiving acoustic, the singers sometimes struggled to be heard from behind the players. An exquisite quartet from the soloists, a jaunty march introduced by the contra-bassoon, and a truly thrilling sprint to the finish.

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