European orchestra at Honiton Festival concert

PUBLISHED: 11:14 14 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:26 15 June 2010

European Union Chamber Orchestra

European Union Chamber Orchestra

Fresh from a successful tour of the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – it was next stop Honiton for the European Union Chamber Orchestra, and a concert in St Paul's Church for the Honiton Festival.

Fresh from a successful tour of the Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - it was next stop Honiton for the European Union Chamber Orchestra, and a concert in St Paul's Church for the Honiton Festival. After that it was more concerts in England and Wales and then on to Istanbul and Amsterdam.

This fine orchestra is made up of players from the member states of the European Union and spends most of its time touring the countries of the world as a cultural ambassador of the union. Numbers in the orchestra depend upon the repertoire to be played and for Honiton it was oboe, two horns and the usual strings. Directing from the first violin was Matthias Wollong who also has the distinction of being the first concert master of the Dresden Staatskapelle and of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra.

The orchestra can always be depended upon for clear, crisp playing, with well defined rhythmic drive and perfect ensemble. In the fine acoustics of St Paul's Church, it was heard to best advantage, living well up to its reputation. The programme was entirely of German music - Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert - all played with verve or serious commitment as required.

A highlight was the appearance of the young violinist Marie Langrishe in Bach's A minor Violin Concerto. Marie, from the nearby village of Weston, was making her local debut, and what an opportunity this was to play with such an orchestra. At just 16, she is a pupil of the Maynard School, Exeter, and continues her musical studies at the Junior Royal Academy, where she was recently awarded the junior violin prize.

She approached the performance with complete confidence and exhibited considerable technical and musical ability. Marie certainly has her feet on the ladder for higher things and we are likely to hear a lot more of her in the future.

Opening the concert was a Divertimento by Haydn which had found its way through various 'lives' from a work for the now obsolete baryton to one for orchestra in which the horn players were put though their paces with some extremely difficult and extravagant parts for the instrument playing at the upper and lower extremes of its register.

Then, there was a very serious Adagio by Mozart, written for, or adopted by the Vienna Masons for use in their rituals. And there were some of those beautiful German Dances written by Schubert, at the tender age of 16, for use in Vienna's dance halls. How things have changed. How could today's pop dance music compare with such refinement and elegance?

To end a most rewarding concert there was the fine Divertimento in D major, K251, by Mozart, with its mixture of exquisite melody, heart-searching sadness, exuberant rhythms and wit. With it, the orchestra brought the concert to an end in fine form.

This was a concert that should have brought the music lovers of East Devon out in force, and every seat should have been filled, but far too many were left empty. Those who weren't there missed a great treat.

John Dalton


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