Some of the world’s most popular music bears hearing again and again. For example, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave) and Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony (from the New World) never tire. They are works of composers at the height of their powers, and with every new hearing one finds more to admire.
There is, however, one note of caution. Both make great demands on orchestra and conductor, and a third-rate or lackadaisical performance by players who are not up to the job is akin to seeing a loved one derided in public.
No such problem, however, on Sunday October 21 at St Saviour’s Church. The Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Roberts, and led by Lisa Wigmore, played as if their lives depended on it. The soaring strings, the powerful brass, the subtle woodwind never put a foot wrong, following every nuance with the confidence born of experience and thorough rehearsal. I went home afterwards and played through movements from recordings of the Dvořák by the Hallé under Barbirolli and by the Berlin Phil under Kubelik and, as I listened, I seemed to hear again the richly resonant acoustic of St Saviour’s. Need I say more?
Well, yes! We also heard Mozart’s Flute Concerto No 1 in G. As the excellent notes in the printed programmes commented, Mozart professed a dislike for the instrument yet he came up with a real ‘winner’. Although a modern flute can navigate the writing better than the flute in Mozart’s day, it is a work best left to a tip-top performer. It had one at St Saviour’s. Sirius Chau took his place as several cellos and double basses departed, and gave a mesmerising account of the work. He wisely had the score by him, and his command and his rapport with orchestra and conductor demonstrated why he had won so many trophies already of which one was this year’s winner of the ESO’s annual young soloist competition. His performance lacked nothing. The musicality and the technical skill were there to see and hear. The audience gave him a great reception which was well deserved.
It was good to see such a large audience due, in part, to the attractive programme, and the ESO’s regular and loyal supporters were plentiful. By Robin Gregory.
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