Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra, Norwich

MICHAEL DRAKE Internationally-acclaimed soloist Richard Watkins made light of the musical leaps and technical requirements of Richard Strauss' Horn Concerto No 1.

MICHAEL DRAKE

A pleasant and varied programme by both Orchestra and Chorus on Saturday evening at St Andrew's Hall was made more than satisfactory by a memorable performance of one of the classical repertoire's favourites, Richard Strauss' Horn Concerto No 1, as internationally acclaimed soloist Richard Watkins made light of the musical leaps and technical requirements, with every note right in the middle of its wavelength.

And with consistently assured and triumphant tone, brilliance in control and shading in the melodic Andante, the whole made for some of the finest horn playing one could wish to hear, with the orchestra (leader Ben Lowe) encouraged by conductor Julian Webb, discreet in its accompaniment.

Earlier, though rejecting a fulsome sound, the orchestra were rather undisciplined in their tuning before the remedy of a colourful and atmospheric display in Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol.

The second half of choral works was conducted by David Dunnett and after the plaintive orchestral opening to Holst's Hymn of Jesus, the chorus, at their best in unaccompanied sections, were explosive though not always ideally balanced as boys and girls from the Cathedral Choir ethereally floated above them.

In Memoriam, by Norfolk- born David Storey, was full of English simpli-city and grace before singing and playing of much feeling was evinced from Vaughan Williams's setting of Walt Whitman's words Towards The Unknown Region. Chorally, this was the most satisfying, never being over-reached yet aspiring to a higher plain.

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