Sunday, March 02, 2014


Essex Symphony Orchestra at Christ Church

Inspired by nature and national identity, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams, making a challenging programme for the ESO, and a wonderful experience for those fortunate enough to be in Christ Church to hear it.
The ESO's leader, Philippa Barton, was the solo violin in The Lark Ascending. The pure, almost reedy tone of her Guarneri copy was ideally suited to the “silver chain of sound” set against the sky-shimmering strings of the orchestra, or unaccompanied as in the sheer enchantment of the closing bars.
Finland was represented by Finlandia, of course, in a thrillingly powerful performance, and by En Saga, a mysterious evocation of lake and forest; Tom Hammond's inspirational direction served the tunes and the textures splendidly. Sterling work from the brass, as there was in the final work, Sibelius' Fifth Symphony. The majestic architecture of the outer movements was clearly delineated by the disciplined precision of the string playing, and if the mighty theme sometimes fared better than the exposed intricacies, the iconic chords at the close were stunningly effective.

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