Review: Emma Johnson’s ravishing interpretation of new East Anglian concerto

Academy of St Thomas, Emma Johnson, St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich

The AST were on fine form for this afternoon concert, with conductor Christopher Adey’s reading of Tombeau de Couperin revealing all the subtleties of Ravel’s marvellous score; the winds excelling themselves, and with exceptionallly fine oboe playing from Sandra Knights.

The central work was the premiere public performance of East Anglian composer Patrick Hawes’ clarinet concerto, specially written for the afternoon’s soloist, Emma Johnson. Scored for strings and harp its three movements constitute an instantly-appealing work, the mostly lyrical writing for clarinet perfectly suited to Ms Johnson’s ravishing sound, heard to greatest effect in the hauntingly-beautiful central Sarabande.

Finally, there was Dvorak’s second set of eight Slavonic Dances. If they don’t quite have the spontaneity of the first set, they still make a brilliant orchestral showpiece, and Adey squeezed every ounce of vitality from the score

Frank Cliff

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