Britten Sinfonia, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Mozart’s 29th symphony, directed from the violin by Pauline Lowbury:, was as exhilarating and imaginative a reading as one could wish for.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Over the past few decades, research, plus performances on period instruments, have changed for the better our appreciation of 17th and 18th century music.

But it has brought its own diktats: for instance, the harpsichord, not modern piano, being de rigeur in Bach.

This is something of a nonsense as the modern piano allows a wealth of expression which the harpsichord does not.


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However, it surely changes to a degree the character of the music.

Angela Hewitt, directing the Sinfonia from the keyboard in two Bach concertos played with admirable skill and musicality, still fell between period style and taking advantage of a modern piano.

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The F major concerto EMV 1057 for two flutes and piano, a Bach transcription of his fourth Brandenburg concerto, seemed to inhabit a stylish no man's land, although the D minor concerto ENV 1052 was much more effective if not fully revealing the power this work can have when performed on a modern piano.

Mozart's E flat concerto K449 fared better in a tasteful if not riveting performance with sensitive accompaniment from the Sinfonia. Their contribution was Mozart's 29th symphony, directed from the violin by Pauline Lowbury: as exhilarating and imaginative a reading as one could wish for.

t The Britten Sinfonia were performing at St Andrew's Hall.

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