Britten Sinfonia, Norwich

MICHAEL DRAKE This splendid ensemble, who have been nominated for an Arts Council Award, thoroughly enjoyed Mozart's Musical Joke together with conductor Nicholas Daniel at St Andrew's Hall.


What is the key to music becoming musical? Possibly not Mozart's satirical Divertimento, a Musical Joke, though even Mozart couldn't make it sound that bad as the splendid Britten Sinfonia, who have been nominated for an Arts Council Award (watch Anglia TV on December 2), thoroughly enjoyed the joke themselves together with conductor Nicholas Daniel at St Andrew's Hall.

Daniel himself then displayed his trademark phrasing in the plaintive Adagio in C for Cor Anglais and Strings which continued into a trio of the same composer's work and the Oboe Concerto in C major — stepping in at the last moment to replace the injured violinist Priya Mitchell — in which he was seemingly inspired in his playing of a work which became an absolute joy to listen to.

A Haydn Symphony in each half completed a popular programme, No 49 (La Passione) being notable for the dialogue upper and lower strings in an immaculately mannered discourse.

And I make no apology for asking if anyone in a seat of power was there to hearing the appalling extraneous noises — would that the comment did not fall on deaf ears!

In Symphony No 45 (the Farewell) the opening Allegro was rich in the Sinfonia's exuberance followed by a beautifully melancholy Adagio and colourful Finale until the musicians in their loneliness depart in turn.

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One is never disappointed with the Britten Sinfonia or Nicholas Daniel and it is difficult to say something new about this orchestra so good are they.

Best to sit back and be carried away by their music and musicianship.

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