Norwich Pops Orchestra

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

The Norwich Pops Orchestra celebrated the New Year in Viennese style, with tuneful favourites full of rhythm and romance played with skill and discernment.

Under conductor Geoff Davidson and with Fiona Hutchins as leader, the players put their best foot forward as they started with the Tritsch Tratsch Polka.

Next came a sensitive, well controlled performance of the poetic Musical of the Spheres by another Strauss. Lumbye's Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop lived up to the promise of its unlikely title, with a lot of instrumental scene painting and essential participation by a willing team of children.

Jenny Bugg's ballroom team from the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society brought colour and graceful movement to Weber's Invitation To The Dance, with Fillip Trzebiatowski adding elegance to the exposed cello line.

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A quartet of ladies in bright gypsy costumes also added to the gaiety in the Champagne Polka to the accompaniment of corks flying from Dominic Hopkins' newly invented popping machine.

Sarahjane King was at her best in the Laughing Song from Diefledermaus when her soprano voice soared high and clear without being blanketed under rather heavy orchestration.

The Thunder and Lightening Polka, with some heavy handed percussion, was a bit too much of a good thing. That, though, was not typical. Generally the orchestra appreciated that what was needed was bright tone, crisp phrasing, precise rhythms and, when the chance came, a few moments of well-sugared sentimentality.

So it was natural that the Blue Danube flowed calm, serene and sentimental to the soulful accompaniment of the horns. Then the Radetzky March rang out to send us striding out jauntily into 2007.