St Peter’s Church, Bexhill Sunday 3rd June 2018
Standing outside St Peter’s as Evensong drew to a close, one could hardly have wished for a more perfect Sussex summer evening. Happily the programme provided by Sussex Concert Orchestra mirrored this warmth and enjoyment.
The performance opened with Faure’s familiar but none the less welcome Pavane, whose warmth and light in the excellent acoustic of the church proved immediately appealing. This was followed by Bach’s Suite for Flute and Strings BWV 1067 with Daisy Noton the accomplished flute soloist. The opening section of the Overture and the later Sarabande were unexpectedly slow and grave – the latter coming close to the intensity of the St Matthew Passion. Elsewhere there was a strong attacking edge in the Rondeaux and very lively rhythms in the Bourees and concluding Badinerie. One of the more complex results of the acoustic was that the soloist seemed to move in and out of the orchestral sound, at times shining brightly above them while at others almost being engulfed by the strings though never creating any sense of an unbalanced effect. It was very impressive and sensitive throughout.
After the interval we heard Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Kenneth Roberts approach to this was intense and often quite aggressive. Tempi and dynamics were frequently on the fast and loud side, particularly in what is normally the slow movement. There were times it felt as though we were tourists in the countryside rather than ramblers – an interesting and not unconvincing approach. The speed was maintained through the exhilaration of the storm – with the piccolo rasping its way above the onslaught – and the subsequent rejoicing, which was enthusiastic rather than romantic.
A fine evening with a full house – and rightly so.