"Beethoven symphony raises roof"

Herts Advertiser critic John Manning found SASO’s March 7th Beethoven concert “exciting and inspirational”

With members of the Hertfordshire Chorus and other local choirs as well as a team of top class soloists, the orchestra and its conductor Bjorn Bantock produced an evening of music which must rate as one of the most outstanding in the many years that I have been following them.

It would be dishonest to say that the performance of the symphony and Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto were perfect, but there was nothing so seriously wrong as to mar the overall quality of the music.

While the symphony is renowned for its final choral movement, the whole work is packed with fine music and wonderful memorable themes and for me the third movement contains some of the finest moments.

The orchestra performed throughout with a tremendous degree of professionalism and filled the cathedral with glorious sounds.

…[the] Herts Chorus and their friends gave of their best to produce a tremendous and joyful performance. The soloists, soprano Erica Eloff, mezzo Susan Legg, tenor Mark Chaundy and bass Michael Bundy who stood in at the last moment for an unwell Njabulo Madlala, matched their efforts.

…Beethoven’s…work for the piano is sublime and the performance of the his piano concerto No 4 which opened the concert was a triumph for soloist Mark Nixon.

…Mark Nixon’s performance was thoroughly absorbing and delightful, packed with excitement and emotion. He and conductor Bjorn Bantock worked well together and the orchestra gave its all for this thoroughly enjoyable performance.

In many ways this was a brave choice of programme for the evening, but there could be no regrets by the time a thoroughly happy audience left the cathedral at the end of an exciting and inspirational evening.

Herts Advertiser, 12th March 2015