Norwich Philharmonic Chorus & Orchestra

MICHAEL DRAKE St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

There was an enterprising start to the society's season as the orchestra (leader, Ben Lowe,) chose the Concerto for Orchestra by Bartok.

Not surprisingly, as the composer lived the final years of his life there, this work seems to conjure more scenes of America than of his native Hungary.

It was given a fine start by a haunting flute and later a series of woodwind and brass duets which contained much sensitivity and humour.

Well-defined unison passages added to the relative starkness of the central of the five movements as a penetrating piccolo over quietly integrated strings brought a thoughtful close. The vigorous dancing rhythms make the finale altogether happier with every instrument playing a confident part under the positive guest-conducting of Andrew Fardell.

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A work which started as a virtual “charity” commission had a lot to say.

The Fauré Requiem is always popular and in the second half, with David Dunnett keeping a smart pace, the chorus produced a finely balanced opening, simple gentility in the Offertorium and a well-judged censerial swing to the Sanctus. But this was a frustrating performance lacking in consistent confidence despite sympathetic orchestral accompaniment.