City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

FRANK CLIFF Less familiar English music for chorus and orchestra made up the first part of the CBSO's programme.

FRANK CLIFF

Less familiar English music for chorus and orchestra made up the first part of the CBSO's programme on Saturday at Snape Maltings.

Britten's setting of Edith Sitwell's poem Praise We Great Men, left incomplete at his death, and Holst's Ode To Death, to a text by Walt Whitman, made for compelling listening. They rather put in the shade an unremarkable ceremonial piece by Elgar, So Many Great Princesses Who Have Gone, originally scored for chorus and military band, here premiered in an orchestration by Anthony Payne. Nevertheless, in all three works the singing of the combined Britten-Pears and Tallis Chamber Choirs in response to the conducting of the CBSO's new chief Sakari Oramo was exemplary.

The other work in the first half – Frank Bridge's Oration of 1930, a concerto for cello orchestra – was, like the Holst, a dark response to the Great War. Its one, continuous movement shows Bridge at his most modern and uncompromising, yet Stephen Isserlis' magnificent playing of the solo cello part and Oramo's conducting ensured the work made its impact.


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The performance of Nielsen's 5th Symphony after the interval was magnificent as Oramo drew sumptuous sounds from the orchestra. Players and conductor thoroughly deserved their tremendous ovation.

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