Havant Chamber Orchestra

It is always pleasing when a conductor gives a member of his orchestra an opportunity to step into the solo spotlight - and doubly pleasing when the result is as delightful as Catherine Nicholson's playing of Rutland Boughton's Concerto for Flute and Strings.

The slow movement is particularly arresting, melodically and harmonically, with the soloist accompanied only by eight stringed instruments, and the playing here was rich in poetry. But the exuberantly dance-like finale was no less effective.

This was the third of three little-known works by English composers in a programme enterprising even by conductor Peter Craddock's standards.

In Malcolm Arnold's Serenade for Small Orchestra the playing caught the nocturnal mood in the second movement, making the finale seem all the more riotous.

Then in Gerald Finzi's Love's Labour's Lost suite, the most compelling sequence consisted of the perky and quirky Clowns movement leading into the tender Three Soliloquies.

The programme ended with Mendelssohn's Symphony No 1, written when he was only 15. It was played with a high level of energy, precision of ensemble and above all suppleness of phrasing within a consistent style.

A most engaging concert.

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