Review: Solent Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea

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A delightful programme, played with evident delight in a delightful setting.

What could have been better for a summer evening? This orchestra of professional musicians, conducted by ex-marines bandsman Steve Tanner, played as if liberated from the resonance of its regular cathedral venue.

Elgar’s Serenade For Strings had charm, delicacy, warmth and energy in perfect balance – with the larghetto notably easing into passion, before four SSO principals took the solo roles in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for wind instruments.

It was played with a sense of fun, with a bubbly joint cadenza in the first movement, a songful adagio, and rustic relish in the finale – with oboist Fiona Reeves, a relatively unsung heroine, leading the way with style.

Orchestra and conductor quickly established the vivid contrasts in Beethoven’s fourth symphony – between the solemn opening adagio and exuberant first allegro, and then between the dramatic and songful elements in the slow movement.

If the finale began a touch unsteadily, the strings quickly developed a potent intensity to round off a concert as compelling in performance as it was in conception.