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AURORA ORCHESTRA & IMOGEN COOPER
THE APEX, BURY ST EDMUNDS
15TH MARCH 2017
In writing this review I could focus on the interesting world première of Schumann’s Canonic Studies, arranged by Robin Holloway for chamber orchestra; the gloriously innovative, acrobatic and at times ‘operatic’ Jeunehomme piano concerto (possibly highlighting Mozart’s impatience to get the hell out of Salzburg?); the stunningly effortless trills of pianist Imogen Cooper, her lightness of touch and fresh approach to a piano concerto in which I saw new depths and nuances; the glorious ensemble playing of the wind section of the Aurora orchestra; the Aurora’s suitability to the Classical Period of repertoire; the conductor Nicholas Collon’s drive to get every ounce of passion and struggle out of Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony and deliver it to the audience with drive, thrust and unadulterated, searing momentum; the dismissive rant of the octogenarian sitting behind me, ‘Young people today. They don’t know how to dress.’ as the young musicians walked on in very well put together black outfits, conforming to the ‘concert dress code’ but maintaining their individuality as artists (do love a classy court stiletto on show); the disappointing lack of under 30s present in the audience (I mean, yes, it was a school night, but can’t Mozart, Beethoven, one of the freshest professional orchestras and a veteran interpreter of Mozart pull in a student or two??); the perfect balance of repertoire; the brilliant communication and the pure enjoyment the Aurora seem to get out of music making.
But no. That was all a given, and with such phenomenal artists and such a lovely programme, it was going to take a lot for me not to enjoy Wednesday’s concert. So the real ‘character’ which took centre stage for me was the venue itself. With all the negotiations going on in London at the moment as to whether we can afford another concert hall, I’ve grown rather sick of the term ‘acoustic’. I mean, in such troubled financial times, aren’t we being a bit greedy with the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Barbican on offer as concert venues, not to mention the number of churches and other smaller venues in which classical music can take place? Well, on Wednesday I had a major wake up call. The Apex’s acoustic is bright, vibrant, sonorous, deep, light, clear and well, just plain right. We bathed for 90 minutes in the most perfect wash of sound I’ve experienced for, goodness, maybe forever. Our listening experience was enhanced, our palettes were satisfied and speaking for myself, I can’t think of a better place to hear live music. I’d even sign up to hear the octogenarian’s speech on fashion if it were at the Apex. At least I’d hear every word of the rant. Even if it were irrelevant to my enjoyment of a truly marvellous concert.