On the day of the Royal Wedding, hundreds of thousands of people thronged the streets of Windsor. Millions saw it on television worldwide. Later that day over 90,000 people packed Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup final, which kept many others glued to the “box”.
Sadly, Havant Chamber Orchestra’s concert at Ferneham Hall that evening was less well attended than it could have been. This was a pity for several reasons. Under the direction of Robin Browning the orchestra was on top form. The soloist was exceptional. And the experimental arrangement of having the orchestra at floor level worked extremely well.
Robin had given considerable thought to the programme. He confided that it was no easy task to match works like symphonies, which usually need larger ensembles, with pieces which are ideal for smaller bands like the HCO. He need not have worried as the programme was well balanced throughout and the orchestra performed the symphony with real gusto.
It was a pleasure to hear Dvorak’s Czech suite in D major with its flowing folk dance rhythms being played with such accuracy and ease. The light and shade were well defined. The conductor’s expressive and graceful style brought out the emerging Czech identity which Dvorak had in mind. The finale was full of strutting bombast and national pride.
Rose performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3 in G with seemingly effortless grace…
…as he controlled the orchestra, Robin Browning kept his eyes on her in a caring, almost avuncular fashion. One noticeable aspect was that in their pizzicato passages the lower strings were absolutely on the button. This was as much a tribute to Robin’s clear conducting and firm beat as it was to the quality of the musicians. There are no passengers in the HCO one viola player said in the interval. Too true.
Immediately before the start of the Dvorak Romance, one of Amanda Berry’s ‘cello strings slipped out of tune. A tyrannical conductor like Herbert von Karajan would have ordered the unlucky player off the stage. But Robin’s smile and body language signalled to the audience that these things happen, so what. As he made small talk with the leader Brian Howells, Amanda skilfully retuned in double quick time.