Thursday, January 02, 2014


Essex Young People's Orchestra in Chelmsford Cathedral

Home in the city of Chelmsford this New Year holiday, I took the opportunity of going to the Chelmer Bridge Rotary Club's Concert, raising money this year for the Broomfield Hospital Burns Unit.
The impressive forces of the Essex Young People's Orchestra, leader Anna Penn, tackled a generous programme: the meat was in the first half, with early Nielsen – the Symphonic Rhapsody, played with stirring orchestral sweep and some fine detail in the woodwind – and Schubert's Unfinished – confident work from the lower strings, and a pleasingly determined impetus in the second movement, encouraged by Matthew Andrews' eloquent baton.
After the interval, the lollipops – seasonal favourites kicking off with Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel Overture - “junior Wagner”, as Andrews playfully described it – and including a thrilling Montagues and Capulets from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, featuring excellent work from brass and percussion, and, in the most successful performance of the evening, the tender Berceuse and the raw, passionate Finale from Stravinsky's Firebird. A beautifully controlled performance.
Just like Barenboim in Vienna just hours earlier, they sent their audience home happy with those traditional New Year encores, the Blue Danube and the Radetsky March. An opportunity for the audience to clap along to Strauss, and for the youngsters to show off in a final up-to-speed reprise.

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