CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
This concert celebrated the contributions made to our musical life by dedicated violinist and orchestra leader Colin Clouting and the prolific, Oscar-winning composer Malcolm Arnold.
Opening with his boister-ous Tam O'Shanter overture showed this commemoration was not to be a mournful affair.
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Under David Dunnett, the Philharmonic Chorus put energy and pathos into its interpretation of Arnold's Return of Odysseus, though the tone flagged a little in some of the longer phrases. Compressing Homer's long story into half an hour, the music went through a range of moods from despair to a gentle lullaby, cleverly switching from unison episodes to more complex passages as the mood demanded.
Some suggestions of the timbre of the lyre added local colour, and the composer knew how to indicate Greek civilisation was not always just sweetness and grace.
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The singers also performed Rachmaninov's Spring Cantanta. The text, in Russian, linked personal emotions with the seasons as a man emerges from a winter of marital discontent to reconciliation as the cherries blossom. At his best in melancholy, Jonathan Brown was the baritone soloist.
Conducted by Adrian Brown and led by Dominic Hopkins, the Philharmonic Orchestra went about Vaughan Williams' London Symphony with a will. The first viola and the first horn distinguished themselves in brief, but important, solos and the timpanist brought panache and impetus.