Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

Tall, energetic and confident, Jill Morton launched into Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto with the commitment demanded by this romantic music.

The Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Ben Lowe, was less successful in creating a good first impression, but quickly regained its poise.

After the drama of the first movement, the second offered a pleasant pattern of changing moods, while the features of the finale were the vigorous dance rhythms and a skilful crescendo.

The Russian theme was continued with Dimitri Shostakovich, whose centenary is celebrated this year. In his Tenth Symphony he gave expression to his artistic frustrations in Stalinist times.

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The result, as we heard in conductor Russell Keable's persuasive interpretation, was a massive, passionate work. Little short of an hour long, it created the most powerful contrasts with all the resources of the modern symphony orchestra.

With the tempo marking “moderato”, the huge first movement was anything but moderate in spirit. After episodes full of dissonant vehemence, the instrumentalists revealed their class when adroitly switching styles for sections that were more conventional and lyrical.

The orchestra was unflagging in the brusque second movement, and in the third the horn players kept their nerve for their exposed, mercilessly repeated motif. The finale, though, was not quite a crowning climax.