Watching the EU Chamber Orchestra at the Norwich Theatre Royal felt like being at University: experiencing the highs and lows of life whilst fighting for your place in the world. As the official Orchestra of the European Union, the company effectively engaged with the audience with its stars Martin Roscoe, legendary pianist, and stunning Emily Sun.
The Bach Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 set off with a quiet and light sound, typical of chamber music. The conversation between the concerto grosso – two groups, one smaller and all string instruments (cello and violin) – was beautiful. Although I initially struggled to understand why so many critics described the Orchestra as powerful, staccato moments crept up on you like assessments. The section was entangled with builds and resolves and, in the end, you were left feeling jolly as if you had just submitted coursework.
As the concert went on, the Orchestra set continued to grow and become more aggressive. Martin Roscoe, a beloved pianist, was introduced, and challenged all other string instruments in Mozart Piano Concerto K.414 major. He engaged the violinists in what felt like a dance which swiftly got heavier and deeper, despite one flat key, and ended the performance on a romantic note.
Emily Sun carried the performance powerfully. The landscape paintings of Martin Ricci, which displayed the collection of a harvest, inspired Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, lively set with faster, piercing moments as well as vulnerable and intimate ones. Sun led the fiery musical debate to a harmonious end, suggesting victory had been hers. The young violinist’s ability to take charge somehow reassured me, and felt particularly empowering.
All in all, the EU Chamber Orchestra was dynamic, and their performance progressed gradually and effectively. The way the instruments collaborated put across that the spikes and dips of life would come to a balanced end. It was a relaxing feeling knowing things would be alright. I highly recommend it.