Britten Sinfonia

CHRISTOPHER SMITH There is one thing better than starting with Mozart, and that is listening to the Britten Sinfonia playing a complete programme of his works with their infinite variations.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

There is one thing better than starting with Mozart, and that is listening to the Britten Sinfonia playing a complete programme of his works with their infinite variations.

The present age did just get a look in, with Steve Martland's transcriptions of favourite arias from such operas as Don Giovanni for wind instruments. But he did not stray far from his models, and the sound was delightful.

The concert, at St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, began with the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, with the accent strongly marked, and went on with the Masonic Funeral Music. Composed as a fraternal tribute to two members of the Lodge that meant a lot to Mozart, it began with reeds that created the mood. Then came a few minutes of distilled grief in manly restraint.

The orchestra was directed by Joanna MacGregor. She also delighted her many fans in her interpretations of two piano concertos, No 9 from early in Mozart's career and No 24 from later on. The evidence of development was brought out in a most striking fashion.

The Steinway was resonant and, not content with fleet fingers and at times a heavy left hand, the soloist often emphasised emotions with body language and mobile lips.

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Though a few might have found all this distracting, when sober citizens stamped their heels and bellowed their bravos it was plain that most found these tokens of total commitment and absorption quite marvellous.

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