Academy of Saint Thomas

FRANK CLIFF St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

The Academy's concert began with an electrifying account of Weber's Euryanthe overture - conductor Christopher Adey driving the opening allegro at a terrific pace, yet giving due weight to the work's dramatic contrast, such as the timpani entrance before the second theme. It was a performance that set the standard for the evening.

The centrepiece was the Elgar cello concerto with Alexander Baillie as soloist. Baillie gave an intense and dramatic reading with brilliant virtuoso playing, especially in the scherzo, taken at a very fast tempo. The sound was rich and warm in the slow movement and if he occasionally did not lay enough emphasis on the work's more poignant moments - the magical return of the adagio's melody at the end of the finale, for instance - it was nevertheless a powerful performance, well matched by Adey's sympathetic direction.

The idea of fielding the original, and still largely unfamiliar, symphony No 4 in D minor by Dvorák was an enterprising one. Though an early work, its Czech influences showed clearly in the first movement and scherzo, while the slow movement owes much to Wagner. Thoroughly enjoyable, it says much for Adey's direction that the orchestra played it with as much conviction as if it were part of their regular repertoire.

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