Essex Symphony Orchestra at Christ Church Chelmsford
Second symphonic Siegfried Idyll in less than a week. Last Sunday, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and this Saturday the Essex Symphony under Tom Hammond. Lovely sound from the strings here – the winds somewhat exposed on the back row, but all blending to excellent emotional effect in the climactic moments.
Wagner wrote his intimate original for his wife's birthday; he was a great admirer of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony - “[it] carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature” he wrote. Performed by the ESO, leader Philippa Barton, with splendid attack and rhythmic drive. Even the Allegretto second movement – theme from The King's Speech – was infused with energy, not just a solemn dirge. The Allegro Con Brio finale, too, sustained its impetus till the last triumphant bars.
Emma Hanlan was the soloist in Nielsen's Flute Concerto. A suitably spiky, forthright approach from the orchestra, the soloist audaciously holding her own in free-flowing conversations with clarinet and other soloists – including trombone and timpani ! Her approach was teasing and enigmatic, her tone beautifully crafted throughout the range.
This was the first concert in the ESO's new season. Coming up later, Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony in Chelmsford Cathedral, and Mozart's exquisite Sinfonia Concertante next July.