Sinfonia joined by gifted violinist

TONY COOPER The City of London Sinfonia kick off their new season as resident orchestra of the King's Lynn Corn Exchange on Wednesday, October 5 (7.30pm), with the founder of the orchestra, Richard Hickox, conducting a popular and entertaining programme that will include Mendelssohn's rapturous and well-loved violin concerto.

TONY COOPER

The City of London Sinfonia kick off their new season as resident orchestra of the King's Lynn Corn Exchange on Wednesday, October 5 (7.30pm), with the founder of the orchestra, Richard Hickox, conducting a popular and entertaining programme that will include Mendelssohn's rapturous and well-loved violin concerto.

The concert, however, opens with a performance of JS Bach's second suite in B minor composed (most probably) for the Leipzig Collegium Musicum - the convivial musical society of which Bach was director for several years from 1729.

The suite is a charming and tuneful piece and ends with a minuet and a sprightly finale which allows the flute a solo part for an entire movement. The soloist is Karen Jones, who was appointed principal flute of the City of London Sinfonia in 2000.

Mendelssohn's violin concerto - which on this occasion will be played by Viviane Hagner, a very gifted violinist who has worked with Hickok before - is one of the most popular in the repertoire and stands alongside those of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Brahms.

Munich-born Hagner enjoys a busy international career and recent highlights include a performance of the Brahms double concerto with Yo-Yo Ma and the orchestra of the National Arts Center of Canada. She also toured Japan with the Deutsche Symphony Orchestra and made appearances with the Stuttgart Philharmonic, the Radio Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

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She plays a rare and fine instrument: a Stradivarius “Sasserno” violin dating from 1717.

Ending the concert is, perhaps, the grandest of Handel's pieces of occasional music - Music for the Royal Fireworks - composed for the celebrations following the ending of the War of Austrian Succession by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.

And at its first performance in London the following April, a huge crowd gathered in Green Park in London to hear Handel's specially-written accompanying music to a grand display of “Italian fireworks”, set off on a huge temporary structure which, at one point, caught fire.

At a public rehearsal in Vauxhall Gardens (on the other side of the Thames) the work had already attracted great attention and, according to one report, about 12,000 people attended this grand event, causing a three-hour traffic jam on London Bridge.

The band numbered about 100: massed oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums (and probably a full string section as well). Though at one stage of some protracted prior negotiations, King George II himself had expressed a preference for “martial music” and said he “hoped there would be no fiddles”.

Even when the work is played by a more normally-proportioned orchestra such as the CLS, it still retains much of its original passion and splendour and is an attractive and sparkling piece in which to end the concert.

t Tickets £17, £14 and £10.50, concs £1.50 off. Telephone 01553 764864

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