Monday, February 10, 2014


M&G Civic Concert at the Civic Theatre Chelmsford

This eagerly-awaited first visit from the Northern Chamber Orchestra, directed from the violin by Nicholas Ward, opened with a richly romantic pairing of Mendelssohn and Bruch, before Haydn's Hen and the September Threnody of David Ellis, former Artistic Director of the NCO.

Given its world première a year ago [in celebration of the composer's 80th birthday] the Threnody is bracketed by a string trio. The rich string sound, the striking harmonies, and the delicate grazioso movement make it a moving, meditative work.

The concert began with a charming, very classical, Mendelssohn String Symphony, with a clever alternating pizzicato in lower and upper strings, written when young Felix was only twelve.

The soloist in the much-loved Bruch Violin Concerto was Jennifer Pike, propelled to fame at that same early age by BBC Young Musician in 2002. A reduced orchestration [just six woodwind] cut through the romantic miasma, and matched Pike's robust, impassioned approach.

After Haydn's Hen – great fun in a meticulous, often muscular performance – it was back to the Romantics for a lovely bonus, the Minuet from Schubert's Fifth Symphony.

The next M&G Concert, on Sunday 2 March, features the Academy of Ancient Music in a programme of Vivaldi and Bach.

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