Autumn Concert 2016

Confidence and exciting imagination

An enterprising programme: the main attraction was the latest version of a work in progress by Adrian Bawtree, former director of music at St Mary’s in Portsmouth. Entitled Remembrance, it draws in part on music of the First World War. The instrumental writing shows confidence and imagination, and the opening was played with flair by the Portsmouth Festival Orchestra.  A melancholy viola solo in the final movement, answered by a serene violin, showed expressive subtlety. Austin Gunn was a forthright heroic tenor here and in Britten’s cantata Saint Nicolas, where the soloist’s virtues included a refusal to ape the quirky style of the composer’s favourite, Peter Pears. And the men’s chorus produced a dramatic crescendo for “Lightning split the waves”.

Mike Allen