Sunday, March 05, 2017


Essex Symphony Orchestra at Christ Church

Popular Tchaikovsky to bookend this concert. Marche Slave as an overture, with its solemn start and dramatic tunes. Brass and percussion, of course, but also some jaunty woodwind, flutes and double basses centre stage,
And to finish, his Fourth Symphony. Some splendid sounds from the ESO, led by Philippa Barton and conducted by Tom Hammond. Horns, cantabile strings and delicate clarinet and flute in the first movement; in the third, playful joie de vivre underpinned by the pizzicato strings. And a white-knuckle ride through the vigorous Finale, with percussion thrillingly prominent.

In the concerto slot, a rare chance to hear Schumann's Konzertstuck for Four Horns and Orchestra. Written to show off the valve horn – new technology back in 1849 – it is a test of the virtuosity, and endurance, of the soloists. Placed to the left of the platform, Fiona Russell, Jeremy Garside, Laure Valiquette-Talbot and Jonathan Handley achieve a bright, clearly-defined sound. The orchestra respond superbly, with, in the central Romanze, the sweep of the strings echoing the lyrical lines of the horns.

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