A fine reminder of orchestra's stature

Bury St Edmunds Festival, Philharmonia Orchestra, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Monday May 11 Benjamin Britten's 'Fanfare for St Edmundsbury', written 50 years ago for a pageant in the grounds of the cathedral, provided an attractive and appropriate opening for the Philharmonia Orchestra's contribution to the Bury St Edmunds Festival on Monday evening.

Bury St Edmunds Festival, Philharmonia Orchestra, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Monday May 11

Benjamin Britten's 'Fanfare for St Edmundsbury', written 50 years ago for a pageant in the grounds of the cathedral, provided an attractive and appropriate opening for the Philharmonia Orchestra's contribution to the Bury St Edmunds Festival on Monday evening.

With the three solo trumpeters placed around the cathedral it not only created an atmospheric effect but also formed a link with the second piece on the programme, a new composition by the orchestra's conductor Benjamin Wallfisch.

This was receiving its first performance, and as well as using, once again, the spatially separated trumpets, the piece wove some complex and unusual textures in a slow-moving and evocative musical landscape. All of this, however, served as the aperitif before the main course - the Violin Concerto by Sibelius, one of the most technically demanding in the repertoire.


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Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto put his stamp on the piece from the start, playing with a confident freshness and vitality, especially impressive in those challenging stratospheric passages at the top end of the violin's range. This was a great performance all round from both soloist and orchestra - a real treat.

After the interval the Philharmonia, under the energetic direction of their young conductor, delivered a crisp and exciting performance of one of the best known works in classical music - Dvorak's 'Symphony no 9 in E minor Op 96 (From the New World).

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This was familiar ground for the audience, with some of music's best-loved melodies, but played with a lively precision that seemed to lend it new life. We came away firmly reminded of this great orchestra's stature, and wondering why there were any empty seats in a concert of this quality on our doorstep.

Wynn Rees

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