Mozart Orchestra and Graham Caskie

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

Conducted by Colin Dowdeswell and led by Keith Hobday, the Mozart Orchestra made good use of full symphonic resources in Smetana's tone poem, Vltava.

An affectionate portrait of a great river, it began with the babbles of the rills rushing down the hillside before finding a steadier, flowing rhythm. Brass added a touch of magic to salute historic sites further downstream.

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The playing was always confident and flexible in response to changing scenes. For close observers there was also the enjoyable spectacle of percussionist Becky Newman whacking the great bass drum with one hand while tinkling the triangle with the other.

Graham Caskie was soloist in Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto. Though not a large man, he sat well back for extra purchase and packed quite a punch in his agile fingers. An unaccompanied arpeggio, delicately phrased and scrupulously timed, showed his artistry at its best.

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The orchestra was attentive in echoing the succession of mood changes, though listeners at the back could have wished it a little less enthusiastic on occasion.

That was not a complaint that could be made about the interpretation of Dvorak's Eighth Symphony, from its mellow start through the hints of Slavonic country dances to the pealing uplift of its triumphant finale.

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