Review: Elgar (2014)

“Steve Bingham has reached astounding levels of musicality with Ely Sinfonia. In the concert last night they were positively inspired and brought Elgar’s music alive with almost tangible excitement. While strong patriotism was present, what transfixed us was the sheer joy the musicians exuded as they revelled in Elgar’s sweeping phrases, emotional exuberance, lyrical tenacity and thrilling and colourful orchestration

‘Introduction and Allegro for Strings’ was magnificent, featuring The Cassia String Quartet and refining the music with precision and soul – even in the ‘devilish’ fugue. It was sheer magic.

The ‘Sea pictures’ were sung by the impressive mezzo-soprano Hannah Pedley. Voice and orchestra captured the messages and atmosphere of the poems beautifully.

The evening culminated with one of the most vibrant performances I have heard of the popular ‘Enigma Variations’. Highlights for me included the familiar seventh variation (Troyte) in which they created a fantastic storm, while the well-known ‘Nimrod’, the ninth variation, was particularly dynamic, maintaining its inherent potency with exquisite control.  All the other characters were there in full splendour including the charming Caroline Alice Elgar, the composer’s wife, the bombastic local squire who ‘spoke’ very energetically, the stammering Dora Penny and the accident-prone bulldog.

This was indeed a splendid evening.”

Dr R Westwell, Local Arts Critic

“The Ely Elgar concert was at the very top of my list of rewarding evenings. Cassia String Quartet excellent soloing in Introduction & Allegro  for strings. Hannah Pedley gave a performance of international standing in Sea Pictures. The Enigma Variations were outstanding, with an especial note of appreciation for the programme notes on each variation, and an awestruck appreciation of the percussion section – supporting a magnificent performance by the orchestra as a whole, and a prima ballerina evocation of the music by the very special conductor, Steve Bingham”.

Michael Watkins, Reynard Music