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We are privileged to have our concerts reviewed by Bruce Upton for the Bridport News.  

Here are our most recent reviews:

Sheet Music
Sheet Music

24th March 2024

 A mixture of well-known and more obscure works featured in Bridport Chamber Orchestra’s spring concert last Sunday at St Swithuns church.  We began with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Rhosymedre , a beautiful and elegiac evocation of the Welsh countryside.  After a rather tentative start the players got into their stride once the hymn tune kicked in, and the balance between melody and accompaniment was  perfectly judged.

Elgar’s Serenade for String Orchestra was similar in its pastoral style, reminiscent of languid summer afternoons and tea on the lawn.  The music was full of long phrases with dynamic contrasts, all beautifully rendered.  David Hedges’ relaxed conducting style suited the music, and Alexandra Ennis’s unfailingly competent violin led the players in a well-blended, tonally satisfying performance.

Highlight of the afternoon was Izy Cheeseman as soloist in Vaughan Williams’ oboe concerto.  Her brilliant, bravura runs and trills combined with a sonorous lower range were a delight to the ear.  This piece with its ambiguous tonal palette and constant changes of key made for seriously difficult music.  It was great credit to the tutti players that they were able to do full justice to it.

The second half of the concert featured two twentieth century pieces.  Gareth Walters’ Divertimento of 1960 was new to almost everyone.  I enjoyed the lilting lento, with its alternating sections for upper and lower strings,  and tuneful largo movements, but the presto was too shrill for me.

Frank Bridge’s Suite for Strings, which ended the programme, was a piece I found difficult to engage with.  There seemed few recognizable melodies and instead a multitude of fragments in different keys, tempi and mood.  The orchestra kept together admirably through this extrovert romp, and it’s a mark of their proficiency that they feel able to tackle such demanding, uncompromising repertoire.

26th November 2023

The Bridport Chamber Orchestra was in splendid form last Sunday afternoon in St Swithun's Allington Church - Confident, polished and on top of their repertoire. Conductor David Hedges has refined their tone and led them to play with precision and accurate tonality.

From the very first chords of Purcell’s Chacony in G minor it was clear that our orchestra had raised itself to a new level.

This piece, all languorous chords over a ground base, was a suitable warm up for the fireworks to follow. In the same vein Corelli’s Christmas Concerto was reassuring in its familiarity and played briskly.

I especially liked the no-nonsense tempo in the final pastorale. Then the always reliable Alexandra Ennis treated us a brilliant performance of Bach’s E major violin concerto. Her mastery of its difficult solo line with all its ornamentation was indisputable, especially in the final movement. Yet her violin could sing out over the orchestra in the adagio.

Next came Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, surely the ultimate “feelgood piece”. Toes were tapping among the audience and heads were nodding as we enjoyed a competent, rhythmic performance. For all its familiarity, this is a serious, challenging work to play, and the orchestra were on top of it. The last work in the programme was the least familiar, and in some ways the most challenging.

Mendelssohn’s String Symphony number 7 was written when he was in his early teens, and in parts of it come across as juvenalia with repetitive motifs. But, too, it has dashing runs of fast passages. Here, at the end of a long and demanding programme, the orchestra’s timing and tone started to falter in places. Notwithstanding, this was an enjoyable concert.

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