Britten Sinfonia



In fine form and with a gifted soloist, the Britten Sinfonia opened its new season on Tuesday evening with an excellent concert. As usual, the programme offered an intriguing and rewarding mixture of established classics and modern compositions.

Fair-haired and small in stature, but totally in command, Alina Ibragimova showed accomplished technique and an enchanting range of tone in Bach's A minor Violin Concerto. The attraction of the first movement was its fluency, and, as if to make up for a slightly portentous bass line in the second, the finale delighted as it speeded away.

A feature of Tansy Davies's new arrangement of a Bach Prelude and Fugue was the way it was punctuated with some emphatic plucking. There was a lot more substance in the 1939 Concerto Funebre by Karl Hartmann.

All the more welcome because it was an unfamiliar work, it set off moments of touching fragility from the soloist against the more powerful, the more energetic and the more threatening forces of the whole ensemble.

Passionate contrasts, overwhelming surges of emotion and something that could well be taken for the rustle of spring were also evident in Schoenberg's Night Transfigured.

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Perhaps identifying the solo violin and Martin Outram's viola with the woman and man in the poem that inspired the composer was a bit literal minded. But the playing was so powerfully characterised the temptation to do so was almost irresistible.

This was late Romanticism at its richest.

Temporary lighting had been set up so that the instrumentalists could see their music. It was unfortunate, though, that the audience in the front seats were dazzled by the glare of the projectors.

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