Eroica Camerata review

POIGNANCY, ORIGINALITY AND CHARM

WINTER DREAMS
Eroica Camerata at St Niholas Church, Kings Norton ****

A suitably crisp winter evening greeted conductor Peter Marks and the 51 piece Eroica Camerata orchestra in the splendid space of Kings Norton's fine St Nicholas church.
Pleasing wood-wind blends opened Tchaikovsky's familiar Romeo and Juliet overture soon building up with suitably dramatic sweeping strings and subtle inclusion of a well- balanced gentle harp.
It is understandable why Berlioz's Les Nuits D' Ete (originally intended with piano accompaniment) is rarely performed. Intended for various voice types, however, his modest and somewhat long-winded pioneering work verges on tedious and boring. Not helped by soprano soloist, Miriam Ridgway, worryingly insecure of tuning in top registers therefore not easy to match the copious programme notes including texts for the concentrating listeners.
Notable inclusions . . . particularly the horn section, earned smiles from the audience, some lovely oboe melding with the general woodwind team.
Tchaikovsky's First symphony – Winter Dreams – conveyed the composer's poignancy with originality and charm. Typical Russian rhythms encouraged silent feet-tapping and smiles all round.
Balance was occasionally worrying as various players were obscured under the splendid ancient stone arches – one suspects that more rehearsal time would have helped here on the day of the performance.
However, it was obvious that both players and listeners enjoyed this interesting 'mixed bag' - smiles a-plenty.
Maggie Cotton

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