Norwich Music Group

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Peter Mancroft, Norwich


> Norwich Music Group, St Peter Mancroft, Norwich

For its concerts for the Big C appeal the Norwich Music Group and its energetic conductor Philip Aldred chose a programme of well known 18th century classics. It attracted a large appreciative audience of a venue that has a distinguished history of supporting good causes with fine music.

A lively start was provided by the jaunty Third Brandenburg Concerto with its repeated themes. More substance would have been welcome in the bass line, to unify orchestral patterns and show the sturdy foundations beneath Bach's musical thought.

Balance was also a problem in one of his delightful double concertos. Christine Godfrey impressed with assurance and bright oboe tone. But combining with her and bringing out individuality over the accompanying strings caused difficulties for the violinist. From halfway down the nave it did not sound as if Frances Allright, despite her stylish efforts, was really an equal partner.

Both choir and orchestra, with trombones to the fore, ceased their opportunities in Mozart's “Requiem”. Though the sopranos sometimes found their top notes uncomfortably high, the passionate dramatic passages had punch. More human emotions emerged in quieter episodes.

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The four soloists combined well, particularly when the brass promoted extra commitment. While Jo Betts used her clear, gently vibrant soprano voice to good effect, mezzo Veronica Grint seemed rather subdued. Iain Milne, on the other hand, breathed confidence, adding more than a hint of a thrill as the tenor soloists. Avoiding anything too theatrical when evoking the Trump of Doom, bass Anthony Joule completed the quartet with style and dignity.

Though indecision of the opening of some movements created momentary unease, the overall impact was strong.