Norfolk Symphony Orchestra
ALISON CROOSE King's Lynn Corn Exchange
King's Lynn Corn Exchange
After 12 years, 80 concerts and 325 rehearsals, James Stobart has embarked on his last season as music director of one of the UK's leading amateur orchestras.
But his swan song has only just begun and he has pledged to take the orchestra to even greater heights before he steps down on his 70th birthday next May. He began that farewell journey by demonstrating the orchestra's musicianship and his own talents as a director.
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The programmes for his final concerts include some of James Stobart's favourite music, starting with the overture Roman Carnival by Berlioz with its extrovert qualities which provided a dramatic opening.
This season also features the return of some favourite soloists.
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The combination of pianist Sophia Rahman and Rachmaninov's master-piece, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, was a delight.
Sophia demonstrated her skill in handling the work's technical challenges, playing with a sensitivity which shone particularly in the sublime romantic variation 18.
Shostakovich's stormy and intense Fifth Symphony, one of the greatest works of the 20th century, put great demands on both musicians and audience.
The orchestra rose to the challenge and delivered a performance which earned an enthusiastic reception.