UEA Choir and Orchestra

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

With Holst's Perfect Fool ballet music as a rousing overture, the UEA Orchestra, conducted by Sharon Choa and led by Tanya Cracknell, turned to Franck's Symphonic Variations. The piano solo was played by Yan Wang with fluency, if not quite enough force to maintain her due place in the ensemble.

The instrumentalists were joined by the UEA Choir under Howard Williams to embark on the challenge of Vaughan Williams's generously proportioned Sea Symphony. Problems of balance arose again, and the singers were sometimes in danger of being swamped by surges of orchestral sound.

All the same, the overall effect was impressive. The great evocation of the oceans and seafaring as an image of humanity's place in the universe came across in the excerpts from Walt Whitman's Leaves Of Grass.

The wordy idealism of the lengthy texts was given life by the two soloists. Soprano Stephanie Corley was forthright and committed. Paul Carey Jones was even better.

The chorus did not falter under a remarkably heavy burden. The liveliness of the Scherzo, coming late in the performance, was particularly creditable. The Orchestra, too, enjoyed a rich score.

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