Returning to the elegant setting that is the Royal Marines Museum, the SSO aptly performed a programme presented as a celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday year and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
Opening with the majestic Jubel Overture by Weber, the orchestra, under the direction of Steve Tanner, achieved a beautiful contrast with the delicacy and lyricism created by flute, strings and harp in Vaughan-Williams’s Fantasia on Greensleeves.
But special mention goes to baritone soloist Alex Poulton. Making his debut with this orchestra in Gerald Finzi’s song cycle for baritone and strings, Let Us Garlands Bring, it’s not hard to see why Poulton has become so well-established in opera and recital. He achieved a real sense of intimacy with both audience and orchestra in his vivid communication of five settings of songs from plays by Shakespeare.
In a sophisticated performance, Poulton shifted from the intensity of meditation and deep reflection to a real sense of jubilation and happiness.
A lighter mood was achieved in Edward German’s concert suite of three dances from Henry VIII, with notably animated playing in the woodwind section before what some audience members termed as the nostalgic indulgence of Coates’s Three Elizabeths Suite created by a generally tight and resonant full orchestral sound.