Britten Sinfonia at Lunch

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The Assembly House, Norwich


The Assembly House, Norwich

For its lunch recital the Britten Sinfonia brought a larger ensemble than usual that produced a particularly rich spectrum of instrumental sound in a decidedly modern programme.

As often is the case in the arts, it turned out that the most satisfying piece in the programme was apparently the least elaborate: Jacqueline Shave's performance of Stravinski's Elegy for solo violin.

Melancholy but without anything too dramatic and with chords to add depth of feeling without over-obvious technical demands, the melodic line had calm beauty as it spun on towards its clear, gentle conclusion.

A sense of progression also enhanced Peter Maxwell-Davies's pair of arrangements of Preludes and Fugues by Bach. The contemporary orches-tration gave fresh vigour to baroque part writing. Owen Gunnell's marimba added a surprising but rather attractive element, setting a pulse in motion as well as adding its own special timbre.

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Tansy Davies displayed the fertility of her imagination in the four short movements of her Contraband, culminating in an episode with the violin and viola strummed ukulele-style. Time and again she generated surges of energy.

Soloist in de Falla's Harpsichord Concerto was Maggie Cole. The composer did not really give her much of a chance to seize the limelight. Instead we were treated to a series of vivid sound pictures from Spain. Joy Farrall's clarinet came across with verve, and the impression of bells pealing at a fiesta was well captured.

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