Norwich Philharmonica

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

In its 167th year, the Norwich Philharmonic Society opened the new season with an orchestral concert on Sunday afternoon. Although there was some division of opinion, switching from the tradition-al Saturday evening seemed to be welcomed by most.

Led by Ben Lowe, the orchestra was conducted on this occasion by John Andrews. A striking figure with a fine head of hair and a voluminous frock coat, he showed the way with wide gestures, as well as an emphatic, incisive beat, always looking to stir powerful emotions.

The programme began with Finlandia. Its thrilling nationalistic fervour might have made all the more impact if the reflective passages had been taken rather more gently and allowed space to touch our hearts.

The soloist in Dvorak's Cello Concerto was Andrew Joyce, who was born in 1982 in Norwich, where he had his first cello lessons.

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After the lengthy orchestral introduction, Joyce took his opportunity to reveal deft technique and attractive tone in one of the most popular works for his instrument.

Sibelius's generously proportioned Second Symphony with its patterns of great forces gradually, at times almost hesitantly, growing again and again to full strength, suited the players and their conductor to a T.

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