REVIEW: Joy and drama from Burgess Hill Symphony Orchestra

Michael Wood
Michael Wood

St.Andrew’s Church was packed for the November concert given by the Burgess Hill Symphony Orchestra.

The Overture to Wagner’s ‘The Mastersingers of Nuremburg’ made for a powerful opening with a fine ensemble sound and rich tone from all sections of the Orchestra.

The excellent brass section added to the drama and the playing was well balanced with the pacing well judged under the skilful baton of Musical Director Michael Wood.

There was a lovely contrast with the opening of Grieg’s ‘Peer Gynt Suite no 1’ and delightful playing by flute and oboe in ‘Morning’. There was a lovely flow and sense of forward movement here and musical direction. The muted strings created an atmospheric opening in the ‘Death of Ase’ and this was beautifully balanced and finely tuned.

The Orchestra caught the dance like quality of ‘Anitra’s Dance’ with light and rhythmically buoyant playing and ‘The Hall of the Mountain King’ provided a dramatic finish with tight ensemble playing managing the exciting accelerando with aplomb.

The first half concluded with a delightful performance of Mozart’s ‘Sinfonia Concertante’.

After the long Orchestral introduction the wife and husband team of Christine and Robert Tuson playing violin and viola respectively played with great style and authority. They created some beautiful dialogue and their tone was always warm and expressive. Both players showed great dexterity in the cadenza and the orchestra gave sensitive accompaniment throughout. The slow movement was beautifully shaped and controlled and the poised playing of both orchestra and soloists brought out the expressive and poignant mood. There was a great sense of joy in the final movement with the two soloists chasing and bouncing off each other with terrific energy. This built to an exhilarating finish.

After the interval we were treated to a fine performance of Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’.

There was excellent balance and ensemble throughout with a wide range of orchestral colour and the performance was well paced and constructed with fine playing from all sections of the Orchestra under leader Andrew Biggs.

There were many musical highlights including beautiful playing of the famous Cor Anglais solo by Penny Atkins and some fine work from principal horn Terry Leese.

From humble beginnings in the Martlets Hall in the 1970s I have seen the Orchestra rise to near professional standard and really look forward to their next concert on May 12, 2018, which will feature the Mozart Oboe Concerto with soloist Mia Taggart and Berlioz’s exciting ‘Symphony Fantastique’.

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