SOLENT CHAMBER ORCHESTRA AT ST. AGATHA’S CHURCH

REVIEW: Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin The Roundhouse, Butser Ancient Farm

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The wonderful setting and acoustics of St. Agatha’s Church, Portsmouth, played host to the Solent Chamber Orchestra on Sunday. Here was a fine selection of musicians (all of whom also represent the parent Symphony Orchestra) who were subsequently to deliver chamber music to a very high standard of performance.

The opening love music of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll was perfect in introducing the audience to the orchestra. The hushed string quintet followed by full strings, through to the entry of single winds was all beautifully managed.

In both this, and Honegger’s charming Pastorale d’ete which followed, the subtle contrasts between strings and winds were well-achieved and yet balanced in the tutti sections. Helen Purchase led the ensemble with assurance and there was some fine horn playing from Allan Mead.

Kirstie Robertson, leader of the Symphony orchestra since it’s formation in 1992, brought the first half to a close with a stylish, lyrical and sympathetic performance of Dvorak’s Romance in F minor. From her impressive opening pianissimo entry her intentions were clear and the orchestra responded well in allowing her beautiful tone to gently convey this wonderfully atmospheric work to the full.

In the second half conductor Steve Tanner then successfully guided a larger chamber orchestra through Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony. As in the first half, contrasts of dynamics were impressively handled, and the orchestra successfully conveyed the new and exciting ideas the composer intended.

The SSO will next be performing on 1st October in Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral when they will perform Dvorak’s Symphony No.9 (New World).

TOM BONE

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