The Mozart Orchestra

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Cathedral


Exciting programming notwithstanding, this was a difficult concert for the orchestra. Not that any of them were off form but the wide-open spaces of the Cathedral are just not conducive to the sounds of a symphony orchestra.

Immediately, Louis Herold's Overture to the opera "Zampa" had some reflective moments from quiet woodwind but strings were often lost in its overall brassy percussiveness.

From halfway down the nave despite a coherent orchestral backing, the same has to be said for the busier passages of Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No 1 and in which Norwich-born Martin Storey gave a strong performance.

The "Second Movement" (the work is actually continuous) was particularly delicately handled with a fine, flowing cello line.

The same composer's Allegro Appassionato for Cello was in similar vein before the Orchestra (leader, Frances Allright) continued with Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite.

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Here the opening Variations were well stated, the evocative saxophone solo especially and then muted strings really came into their own in the lovely Adagietto with impressive control.

Then from the favourite ballet score by Delibes, Conductor Colin Dowdeswell maintained a stately tempi and here the MO were on their toes and although sometimes overwhelmed by the percussive reverberations, gave a colourful reading with a final Czardas flourish.