Lang Lang and the Prince of Wales's Private Band

FRANK CLIFF Church of St James the Great, Castle Acre


Church of St James the Great, Castle Acre

One of the aims of that splendid institution, Music in Country Churches, is to assist with funds for the maintenance of these beautiful buildings. Its principal patron is the Prince of Wales, present with the Duchess of Cornwall at last night's concert at Castle Acre which was in memory of the Queen Mother.

Central to the programme were three works associated with the Queen Mother, each with a Scottish flavour, and commissioned by the Prince of Wales.

First came the first performance of a concerto for piano and orchestra by Nigel Hess with Lang Lang as soloist. In three movements, it is an immediately accessible work, melodious and well-crafted, if largely unmemorable. Lang Lang made the most of the flamboyant piano writing.

Richard Rodney Bennett's Reflections On A Scottish Folk Song for cello and string orchestra was written in 2004 in memory of the Queen Mother.

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A set of rhapsodic variations loosely based on the Scottish folk song “Ca' the Yowes”, this is music with a truly distinctive voice, the virtuosic cello writing brilliantly performed by Paul Watkins with conductor Christopher Warren-Green revealing to the full the imaginative string writing. Finally soprano Janis Kelly was in radiant voice in a movement from Patrick Doyle's The Thistle And The Rose.

This was a debut performance of the splendidly titled The Prince of Wales's Private Band, and Christopher Warren-Green drew marvellously disciplined playing from them, especially in a magical Elgar Serenade For Strings and a work by the unjustly neglected Parry, his English Suite.

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