CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Thomas' Church, Norwich
St Thomas' Church, Norwich
Norvic Concordia, St Thomas's Heigham, Norwich
Adding another layer to the varied musical life of Norwich, Norvic Concordia entertained the fine acoustic of St Thomas's wide, uncluttered nave. The accordion ensemble, a team of three ladies and three gentleman, played its rich, enterprising programme with style and unflagging enthusiasm.
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Director Peter Ayers, who had arranged all the music, led from the bass. He put in a solid bottom line and also made important contributions all the time with his crisp rhythms.
The compere was the relaxed Kevin Mitchelson. He enhanced the concert without ever seeming to be given us a lecture. He didn't just explain the intricate mechanism of the accordion. He also showed how its advanced technology created its special powers of expression.
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So in the romantic smoothness of the waltzes we could appreciate the control of gentle wind pressure. A split second of extra pressure on the bellows provided the contrast for the marked accents that gave life to the tangos. Echoes of 18th century poise and grace, like Aletter's Intermezzo Rococo, were as convincing as the jazz numbers.
Jehuda Oppenheimer's Longing the reedy tone caught the blend of melancholy and schmaltz typical of the oppressed minorities of central Europe.
Two classical works fared well too. A Prelude and Fugue by J S Bach called for skipping fingers on the keyboards and clearly characterised part playing. The players and their instruments were fully up for the challenge. The first movement of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was lively and impressive too.
Towards the end, when we might have been imagining we had got the measure of the accordion Erroll Garner's Misty showed yet another technique, a muting device that created just the right poetic effect.