Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

IAN COLLINS Norfolk and Norwich Festival event at St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

IAN COLLINS

There's a unique expression marking in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 5 – “Affectionately”. And that is exactly how these fine players approach their music.

Just as Waitrose is the best supermarket in part because the staff own it, so this self-governing orchestra surely benefits from being a band of equals.

Everyone performs with similar commitment, enthusiasm and, yes, affection.

That said, guest director Richard Egarr fairly blew us all away with the sweeping and swirling harpsichord cadenza at the heart of No 5.

And flautist Lisa Beznosiuk and violinist Catherine MacIntosh practically sent us dancing into the street with the near-Irish jig with which Bach ends this most brilliant Brandenburg concerto.

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Being a Bachoholic, I would have preferred this six-concerto cycle to be played in a single evening, rather than scattered through two concerts.

But interludes for Benda's Flute Concerto and two pieces by Vivaldi allowed us to soak up the baroque spirit which is so finally tuned to the human soul.

If the opening Brandenburg Concerto No 3 was a warm-up, No 6, closing the first half of the programme, was pure bliss.

And I should add that bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku was mesmerising throughout.

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