English Chamber Orchestra
FRANK CLIFF St Mary's Church, South Creake
The venue is always one of the great joys of the Music in Country Church series, and St Mary's is surely one of the most beautiful. If there is a debit side, it is that the programmes tend to be unadventurous though one shouldn't complain of a diet of just Bach and Mozart.
Stephanie Gonley's direction from the leader's desk always has complete authority, as demonstrated in a spirited performance of Bach's Third Orchestral Suite – stylistic, yet not too rarefied.
Bach's D minor concerto for two violins proved problematic. Russian violinist Sergej Krylov is brilliant but this concerto didn't seem right for his style: the combination of his exuberant virtuosity and Stephanie Gonley's refined musicianship didn't seem to be a musical marriage made in heaven.
In Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, with Stephanie Gonley as violist, the stylistics differences were even more apparent. Even so, it takes more than this to undermine such a wonderful work and Stephanie Gonley's superb viola playing compensated.