The Times review: ‘a dazzling virtuoso account’

The Times review: ‘a dazzling virtuoso account’

Hugh Canning writes for The Times, ‘Benjamin Britten’s birthday neatly fell on St Cecilia’s Day — music’s holiest of holies — so the third weekend of November, traditionally, has become Snape Maltings’s annual “excuse” for a Britten mini-fest. This year featured John Wilson’s newly re-fangled Sinfonia of London, which made its live concert debut only at this year’s Proms, after Wilson founded it again using a hallowed name from the 1950s.’

‘A brace of programmes prominently featuring Britten showcased this “fledgling” orchestra, comprised of the finest players in the UK, in different formations. First as a full-on symphony orchestra, even grander in scale than at the Royal Albert Hall in September. Then in more intimate guise as a string “chamber” orchestra — plus winds and timps in Britten’s Nocturne, hauntingly sung by Ian Bostridge. This culminated in a dazzling virtuoso account of one of the composer’s earliest international successes: the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge…’

John Ireland’s 1921 symphonic rhapsody Mai-Dun and Vaughan Williams’s majestic homage to London – his Symphony No 2 – demonstrated not only Wilson’s eclectic taste in English music but his orchestra’s technical mastery and dedication. The sound in the Maltings’s ideal acoustic was sensational: every pianissimo registered, and every fortissimo climax palpably contained. More please.’