REVIEW: Solent Symphony Orchestra at Royal Marines’ Museum, Eastney

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As a fitting farewell to the magnificence of the Royal Marines’ Museum, players from the well-respected Solent Symphony Orchestra performed a chamber concert featuring their own players as soloists.

Commencing with the second Concerto Grosso Op. 3 by Handel, the orchestra could have been more rigorously directed at the opening to achieve a tighter ensemble, but there were some fine solo features; most notably the well-

matched playing of the leader of the orchestra Kirstie Robertson and her counterpart Helen Purchase, leading the second violin section.

A hitherto unrecognised gem in the classical repertoire, however, was to follow in Danzi’s Sinfonia Concertante Op. 41 for flute and clarinet. As a contemporary of Weber, enthusiasts will recognise this mutual influence in

the instrumental writing which characteristically exploits the beauty and virtuosity of both instruments. Indeed who better to perform this work than the orchestra’s founder member and principal flautist, Helen Walton and their much acclaimed principal clarinetist, Robert Blanken? Taking the lead from the soloists the orchestra, joined in this piece by their own conductor on flute, Steve Tanner provided an assured accompaniment, which allowed the finesse and flair of both players to shine through. Their outstanding communication with each other and their audience throughout provided a truly unmissable performance.

Concluding the concert with arguably the first of Mozart’s more sophisticated works, Symphony 29 in A Major, ex-Marine musician Tanner took firm control of the orchestra to achieve real unity of sound throughout, with apt robustness especially pertinent at the opening and later in the minuet and finale.

This was a summer concert not to be missed – the orchestra is to repeat this programme on Saturday, July 14, at St Peter’s Church, Petersfield.

LARA JELLIFF