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Date: 15 & 16 October 2004 at 20.00
: The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Reviewer: J. H. Stape



Programme: Clarke Prince of Denmark's March | Purcell-Britten Chaconne in G Minor | Handel Concerto Grosso in B Minor | JS Bach Orchestral Suite No 2 | Manfredini Concerto for Two Trumpets | CPE Bach Symphony in B Minor | JS Bach Orchestral Suite No 3

Conductor: David Lockington | Flute: Christie Reside Trumpets: Marcus Goddard and Raymond Kirkham

David LockingtonProgramming a concert with so many pieces risks a bitsy feeling of more pips and squeaks than a satisfying full course, but the planning here proved masterful -- thank goodness, we were spared Pachebel's "Canon" -- from the festive opening to the mighty strains of Bach's Orchestral Suite. The orchestra and soloists, ably led by Maestro David Lockington, were in characteristically fine form.

Jeremiah Clarke's stately March, long wrongly attributed to Henry Purcell, was familiar stuff enough but served as a welcome greeting to the evening, showing off the Chan's vibrant acoustics as the trumpeters perched far back and above the stage filled the hall to its remotest corners. The mood immediately shifted with the solemn, almost larmoyant, opening of Purcell's Chacony in G minor, a work of infinite grace and refinement that established the mood for the first segment of the programme, its two other works being in minor keys.

Handel's robust Concerto Grosso in B minor received a strong, characterful rendition, with particularly rich contributions by Concertmaster Mark Frewer to a fluently idiomatic performance. Flautist Christie Reside, another of the orchestra's treasures, was an exciting soloist in Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2. Sprightly and deft articulation combined with flawless technique yielded a performance of singular charm and made fresh even the all- too-often played last movement.





Evidence aplenty of the orchestra's superb brass section (it was also recently forthcoming in the Mahler Symphony No. 3) was on hand in the Manfredini Trumpet Concerto, given an ebullient, even cocky, reading by Marcus Goddard and Raymond Kirkham. Cascading sounds gave an energetic close to this vivacious piece.

C. P. E. Bach's showy and confident Symphony for Strings is, as it were, the "Smile of Reason" set to music. Metonymic exactitude combined with spirited playing, and the sound here was big and bright, with Lockington urging on a committed performance.

JS BachJohan Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite, nearly swept all the previous splendours before it, with the orchestra giving a generous, bold performance of this large-scale and elegant work, its infectious toe-tapping opening and closing movements broken by a wistful moment. The familiar second movement ("Air on a G string"), with its plaintive and longing, presages the Romantics well before the letter. The opening movement's thumpy, open character returned in the finale, giving a perfect twist to an evening of accomplished and occasionally outstanding string playing.

Maestro Lockington's return to the VSO podium was the stuff inspiration. Eminently personable, he presided with stylish elegance, coaxing out performances that glittered on into the autumn evening.

2004 J. H. Stape