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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH
was at last week's Bromley Symphony Players concert

Ask Alice

? 'Hi Alice,

Spotted you at the Bromley Symphony Players' concert last week. What did you think? Weren't Caroline and Bernard fantastic?

Ask Alice

Cartoon of Alice McVeigh. © 2015 Pat AchillesHi Maurice,

Great to see you last week, though briefly, and hope all is well.

Yes, I loved the concert. The Bromley Symphony Players were, unusually, conducted by the Bromley Symphony Orchestra's conductor, Adrian Brown, and did marvellously well (not only musically but, I understand, with regard to raising money for the charity Help Musicians — previously known as The Musicians' Benevolent Fund).

The concert, in the ornate yet lovely St Mary's church, kicked off with my least-favourite of the Mozart Divertimentos, K 137, but Brown incited real verve from the Allegro di molto, and refused to allow the final movement to become twee, which is, frankly, always a risk.

It was followed by Elgar's immortal Serenade for Strings, and here Brown conjured up some really remarkable flexibility, colour and feeling from the chamber orchestra, particularly in the Larghetto, where there were moments of exquisitely elegiac hush, though the final Allegretto had some very memorable moments as well.

The first half concluded with an account of Handel's Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 11, where some very elegant playing was supplied by Bernard Brook and Rosie Cousins (violins) and Helen MacDonald (cello), seconded by an orchestra fully alert to the sense of baroque phrasing and contrapuntal vivacity inherent in the score.

The performance of Bach's concerto for violin and oboe BWV 1060 was glorious. From the very beginning Bernard Brook (violin) and Caroline Marwood (oboe) weaved their lines together with utter confidence and stylishness. The Adagio allowed both Brook's limpid bow technique and Marwood's organic and almost effortless sense of phrasing full play. The last movement was perfectly paced, and fresh as paint. The communication between the two soloists, and between each soloist and conductor, was exemplary.

The Mendelssohn Sinfonia 12 (which I recall recording with the Hanover Band) is a very appealing work, though it can sound a little like a composition assignment. Here the fugue had controlled energy, and the textures weren't too blurred by the acoustic. The kernel of this work is the flowing and eloquent Andante, where the violas shone, and where each line was burnished. The Allegro molto, which has drive and contrapuntal sections reminiscent of the Octet as well as more searching sections, was powered by the trademark Adrian Brown panache. The reception was rapturous, as it deserved to be.

Copyright © 28 October 2016 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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