Locarian Ensemble:Nelson by Candlelight

MICHAEL DRAKE Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


> Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

This popular group is not averse to trying things out on a Norwich audience – full to overflowing last evening – and so its latest show, Nelson by Candlelight, was conceived to honour the Norfolk-born hero in commemorating this 200th year since Trafalgar before it was taken out on tour.

Last evening's “test run” passed with flying colours, and while Nelson featured frequently there were some tenuous connections – the opening Beethoven Pathetique Sonata for example, included for its 1805 arrangement for viola quintet.

While narrator Patrick Lannigan gave it impetus with the Locrian's truncated, but poignant, history, the theatre's acoustics did the musicians no favours and musically it lost some of its soul despite the elegant drawing room set.

Haydn wrote the Battle of the Nile for soprano following the victory, and after a dramatic instrumental opening it was brought to life in the fresh, bright voice of Catriona Holt with exemplary diction – qualities she further displayed in Tunes of the High Seas, now with the addition of harp, before the strings took up more sea melodies.

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The 1812 Overture? It certainly went with (paper bag) bangs and was from the right period.

It was fun and that was the tenor of the whole evening.

There will be plenty of formal tributes to Nelson this year – to say the least, the Locrian's was informal.

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