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Classical; REVIEWS.

Byline: DAVID HART

Academy of St Martin in the Fields Symphony Hall Quality will out, as the saying goes, so a full house for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields was no surprise.

After all, orchestral sheen doesn't come much glossier than in this ensemble's honeyed strings and its immaculately discreet woodwind section.

Somewhat more surprising was a performance of Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony directed from the violin, especially as the ASMF makes no claim to be a period band. Even so, Joshua Bell secured a sparkling reading with frenetically bustling outer movements, even if the inner ones didn't quite fulfil their elegant potential.

Haydn's Symphony No. 13 also received a conductor-less and stylish reading, here curated by cellist Steven Isserlis. It was a pity he faced the orchestra for three movements, as it made his own playing redundant; but his full-frontal rendition of the Adagio's meltingly lovely cello solo more than compensated.

In some ways this was the high spot of the evening. The Andante of Brahms's Concerto for Violin and Cello (with conductor Ian Brown in charge) came a close second and was beautifully shaped. Both soloists brought passionate energy to the other movements, even in those passages where Brahms's inspiration seems to have deserted him. A fine and noble account, certainly.

But did it really warrant whoops and cheers? DAVID HART
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 10, 2011
Words:225
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