Academy of St Thomas
FRANK CLIFF St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
An all-Beethoven programme performed by the Academy of St Thomas proved, if such were needed, that his music still draws the crowds — scarce an empty seat in St Andrew's Hall on Saturday.
Popular it may be, but performing Beethoven's music is no sinecure so it was rewarding to hear the orchestra on such excellent form under its chief conductor, Christopher Adey.
In the Coriolan Overture, Adey sustained the dramatic tension brilliantly without recourse to any excessively frenetic tempo, with resulting textural clarity.
Even in the notorious acoustic of this hall, the development's repeated quavera motif in violas and cellos was clearly articulated and the work's quiet ending beautifully judged.
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Maurice Hasson was the distinguished soloist in the violin concerto, the sound eloquent, the virtuosity understated as befits this most classical of all violin concertos.
It was an elegant reading with a sensitive accompaniment notable for some fine wind playing.
The final work showed just what a fine Beethoven conductor Adey is, for the second symphony is not the easiest work to bring off successfully.
A finely judged tempo ensured that there were no longeurs in the slow movement, and elsewhere he brought out all the work's wit and vitality, to which the orchestra responded brilliantly.
The evening proved that there may be umpteen recordings of these works available, but there can be no substitute for live performance with this degree of commitment.