A fine evening of music at concert in Horsham

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Horsham Symphony Orchestra gave us another demonstration of why they must be one of the best local orchestras in the country .

Held at The Capitol Theatre, Horsham, on Saturday June 13, the concert was ably conducted with animated energy by Steve Dummer whose good humoured introductions always set the scene nicely. The orchestra began with Weber’s Overture from Der Freischutz.

I think it might have been my earlier suggestion that the orchestra should begin its concert with a short piece such as an overture.

It gives the orchestra and the audience a chance to warm up. This particular piece is no easy opening. The opera itself is considered the first important German Romantic opera. The opening Adagio created the sense of mystery, followed by the sound of the forces of evil which gave way nicely to the Molto vivace.

Further dramatic elements (which included well controlled horn ensemble and clarinet solo) made way for an energetic, exuberant and triumphant finale: the full opera in a nutshell.

For the second piece (Mendelssohn - Konzertstucke No 1 & 2 for clarinet, basset horn and orchestra) we were in for a treat. Steve Dummer, apart from being a fine conductor, is also an acclaimed clarinettist. And he demonstrated his skills as he both took the clarinet solo lead as well as continuing to direct the orchestra. Andrew Meredith, also a member of the orchestra, brilliantly complemented Steve on the basset horn as both made light work of the virtuoso passages. As Steve Dummer put it: “I get all the tunes, he does all the hard work”. The performance was mesmerising. They were perfectly together.

And then, after the interval, the finale in the form of Brahms Symphony No 1 in C minor. These well-known symphonies can become a little pedestrian with some orchestras. Not so here.

The symphony began in dramatic fashion with the low drumming and the moving figures of strings and wind instruments leading to a well-played Allegro section with its many and varying demands on the orchestra.

In the slow movement the orchestra played with a light but lyrical style with particular credit going to members of the woodwind section. The violin solo was beautifully executed by the orchestra’s leader, Rachel Ellis.

In the third, scherzo-like movement, the orchestra appeared to manage with ease the complex rhythms in which the brass section was particularly effective. The main theme of the fourth movement has something of the feel of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, albeit a distinct and stirring melody of which I am very fond, and the orchestra rose to the occasion magnificently at the grand finale.

All in all, a fine evening of music which was so evidently appreciated by the near capacity audience. Horsham has every reason to be proud of its very talented orchestra.