At first it seemed that the latest triallist for the Havant Symphony Orchestra’s conductorship was not doing much to energise the playing.
But then realisation dawned: less is more. Having done his work in rehearsals, Tom Hammond was quietly drawing a very good level of performance from the largely amateur band.
Nor was it only the HSO woodwind who excelled, as they usually do.
The strings had a rare level of accuracy and polish, and the brass were more disciplined than they sometimes are.
Suites from Ravel’s Mother Goose and Bizet’s Carmen generally stood out for their refined colouring, balanced sound and rhythmic allure.
But the cor anglais solo in the Rob Roy Overture by Berlioz, later to become a motto theme in his Harold In Italy, was also impeccably phrased.
More disappointing was a slightly stilted, four-square account of Borodin’s incomplete third symphony.