45th anniversary concert for Academy of St Thomas orchestra a hit

Academy of St. Thomas, St. Andrew’s Hall, 13th October. Review by Frank Cliff

It was a noble gesture of the AST’s new guest conductor, Benjamin Pope, to dedicate his new arrangement of Delius A Walk to the Paradise Garden to the AST, on this, their 45th anniversary concert, though in performance it lacked something of the langorous sensuality captured so beautifully in Beecham’s arrangement.

Richard Harwood was the distinguished young cello soloist in the Elgar concerto, giving a perfectly controlled performance, the magical slow movement very fine, brilliant virtuoso playing in the scherzo, and beautifully judging the return of the slow movement theme at the end of the finale, with Pope providing a sympathetic accompaniment.

The lyrical opening of Brahms 4th symphony took a while to settle down, but thereafter Pope’s tempi were well judged, with fine dramatic contrasts; a dynamic scherzo, the slow section of the passacaglia providing some fine wind playing, and Pope creating a tremendous final climax.

Frank Cliff

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