Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra

MICHAEL DRAKE St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

Not often heard on the concert platform, Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances represented an interesting piece of programming on Saturday evening.

And it was made more so by conductor Russell Keable's descriptive insight into this untypical composition – his last orchestral work – with its large percussion section and alto saxophone among the forces picking up the fragments of tunes.

The longer melodious passages were delightfully dealt with by woodwind, in particular early in the first movement with the rest of the Orchestra's (leader Ben Lowe) silent, giving an eeriness against the following lush strings and bright brass.

In the end the well balanced waltz of the Andante probably succeeded on points over the darker orchestral surroundings and a highly rhythmical and percussive finale was as exciting as one could wish for.

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Prior to that there was a rather depressed opening to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D in which the soloist was Thomas Bowes. Fortunately the early distinct lack of tone and character soon went up a notch as the themes emerged and, with full and sure orchestral backing, it began to exude life and develop with assurance, culminating in a bravura display in the long cadenza.

The central Canzonetta was serenely wistful while the finale contrasted the two themes to great effect until a flamboyant climax prefaces deserved acclaim.

The other work, Prokofiev's Pushkin Waltzes, also had a low-key opening but settled into sedate waltz time marked by some fine woodwind playing.

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