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St Albans orchestra gets with the programme

PUBLISHED: 08:52 04 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

CAREFUL attention to detail is one of the features that makes concerts by Amadeus, the St Albans Chamber Orchestra, such a delight. It is not seen just in the high standard of performance the orchestra always achieves but also in the excellence of program

CAREFUL attention to detail is one of the features that makes concerts by Amadeus, the St Albans Chamber Orchestra, such a delight.

It is not seen just in the high standard of performance the orchestra always achieves but also in the excellence of programming.

And that was one of the reasons for the success of Saturday's concert at St Saviour's Church in Sandpit Lane.

For after a beautifully light and transparent first half the orchestra then went on to explore the full majesty of Beethoven's Eroica symphony.

Ralph Vaughan Williams' ever-popular overture The Wasps opened the evening and conductor Simon Thompson immediately demonstrated his great ability to achieve wonderful musical colour from the orchestra with excellent use of ever-changing dynamics in the opening bars.

For me the real treat of the first half was Claude Debussy's delightful Petite Suite with its fine flute opening and delightfully dreamy first movement.

Rounding off the first half was an orchestral version of Grieg's popular piano piece, Wedding Day at Troldhaugen.

The finely detailed orchestration, the work of locally-based professional conductor and arranger Robin White, was both exciting and amusing and, unusually, the arranger joined the orchestra as a member of the percussion section for the performance.

But without doubt the orchestra's performance of Beethoven's powerful third symphony, The Eroica, was the outstanding part of the evening.

Once more the orchestra demonstrated its ability to give fine performances as Simon Thompson carefully guided them at just the right pace for the music to have its full dramatic effect.

Throughout the symphony, individual members of the orchestra once more showed their skills as well as their tremendous ability to work together as a team.

As expected, Amadeus again provided a first-class evening of music which was a fitting tribute to Simon Thompson who is celebrating his 21st year as its conductor.

JOHN MANNING

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