Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra

MICHAEL DRAKE St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


Job satisfaction in the percussion section, especially for the four timpanists, must rank very highly in Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and after Saturday's highly charged performance from the whole orchestra (leader, Ben Lowe), audience satisfaction, too, reached a high level.

Love was in the air for this Valentine's Day concert, although it did not run particularly smoothly, nor were the waters the calmest in Dvorak's Symphonic Poem The Water Goblin.

But as the music flowed through the heavily percussive section, there was much more clarity.

Romance was also in plentiful supply in Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder.

One of the world's leading dramatic sopranos, Elizabeth Connell, took it much further than the archetypal, fierce Wagnerian singers as vocal strength was allied to subtle and lyrical tenderness.

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This was especially so in the Hot house and the final Traume.

There was also great sensitivity in the Symphonie Fantastique with just about room on stage for the augmented orchestra with a sure bedrock from cellos and basses in the opening movement.

The whole was kept on springs by guest conductor Tim Murray.

More percussive rhythms for the whole orchestra was a mere foretaste of the Finale.

Symphonie fantastique indeed.