With an impressive flourish of notes from the brass, the Colchester Symphony Orchestra launched its new season with Walton’s majestic Spitfire Prelude and Fugue resonating around the glorious acoustics of St Botolph’s Church. This was a confident start to a well-thought through programme.
The orchestra’s leader, Philippa Barton, was the soloist in both John William’s Schindler’s List, where she played the haunting melodies depicting the real-life horror story with great tenderness, and also in Shostakovich’s Romance from his music for a historical adventure set in 19th century Italy, The Gadfly, where she performed this familiar music uncommonly well.
Dave Chivers popped out from the percussion section to be the accomplished and agile accordionist in Gardel’s Tango Por una Cabeza used in The Scent of a Woman. On its second hearing there was the unexpected addition of professional dancers performing the tango around St Botolph’s Church!
Without a doubt, for me the highlight of the concert was hearing and seeing the now augmented orchestra effortlessly and accurately playing Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story Symphonic Dances in a sparkling, crisp and rhythmical performance. Execution from all was astonishing, but the percussion department was exceptional.
The concert ended in great style with a selection from John William’s Oscar-winning soundtrack, Star Wars. This orchestra clearly enjoys performing together and the audience greeted the music with much enthusiasm.
I was pleased to see that the programme brought new faces into the audience and also in the orchestra. It is always difficult to pull off a concert of such well-known music but the CSO, under its strong and stable conductor, did it all with great musicality and style.
Liz Leatherdale, Colchester Classics, Essex Life, November 2017