Britten Sinfonia

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


Busy, not to say bustling, the first movement of JS Bach's Concerto for Violin and Oboe captured attention and captivated the audience at the start of this programme by the Britten Sinfonia.

Then the adagio gave the two soloists, Tasmin Little and Nicholas Daniel, their chances to stretch out quiet phrases to what seemed to be the limits of possibility. The finale restored high spirits without a hint of over emphasis.

Haydn was shown working on a different system in his Symphony No 6, whether or not you care to take seriously the notion of a sound picture of dawning day. The movements themselves contained attractive contrasts, and extra instrumental colour brought character as well as variety. The flute and the horns had their moments, creating a pastoral mood. So did the basoon, played by Sarah Burnett, in its dignified way.

Pauline Lowbury, who directed the ensemble from the first violin's desk, showed her paces in elegant variations in the manner of an 18th- century courtly dance. The cellist, Andrew Fuller, was her partner. In the minuet, the mood was more dramatic, a pointer to developments soon to come.

Some of the sort of things they might be were shown in Beethoven's Violin Concerto. A striking figure in a sparkling white gown, the soloist Tasmin Little also took on the role of conductor. The result was an impression of individual control. The orchestra responded with a will, while the violinist brought conviction to her role. After all the earlier tensions, the closing rondo bounded with pent-up energy and high spirits, to the delight of an enthusiastic audience.

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