Academy of St Thomas

MICHAEL DRAKE St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


Academy of St Thomas

St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

Great - a word devalued by over use perhaps, but in the context of Saturday evening's 30th Anniversary Concert by the Academy, a good word.

Certainly a great (and appreciative) audience - the hall was full - great piano soloist and the Great Schubert symphony.

Academy musicians always appear to be enjoying themselves. It is not surprising that a number of founder members are still with the orchestra. Led, as it has been for the whole period, by Paul Clarke, they began with Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis for strings, beautifully controlled by conductor Christopher Adey in bringing together the second orchestra and quartet with the main ensemble to achieve spiritual remoteness allied to sensitivity.

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Woodwind eventually settled in the introduction to Mozart's Piano Concerto No 24 in C minor and the early impression from soloist Michael Roll was one of tenseness but his performance then offered a more relaxed flow to the Allegro and while there was a little less assuredness in the essential movement, deftness returned in the finale with a dash of passion in the later variations.

And then, an encore - Mozart's D major Fantasia - which although del-ightfully played, took away the imme-diate effectiveness of the concerto.

So to Schubert's symphony, no 9 in C major The Great - so called to distinguish it from the smaller C major symphony no 6. Throughout, the brass section was a feature. Woodwind came to the fore in the dancing rhythms before a full-bodied and exciting scherzo. An energetic finale to a great evening with a well-integrated performance worthy of its celebratory inclusion.

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