While this was effectively the last Ten Tors Orchestra Gala Christmas Concert as such, conductor Simon Ible ensured that every member of the packed audience still went home full of seasonal cheer and goodwill.
With Simon’s inimitable knack for spot-on programming, Mozart’s Paris Symphony got things off to a flying start, where the playing was crisply-articulated and the ensemble taut overall.
The specially-convened choir produced a full-blooded sound in two well-known choruses by Bach, followed by the almost obligatory helping of Messiah, where the singers were joined by mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin, who had already delighted Christmas concert-goers here previously.
Sarasate’s highly-entertaining Zigeunerweisen gave lead-violinist Mary Eade a unique opportunity to shine, where, in the garb of a gypsy-violinist, she single-handedly transformed the idyllic moorland setting into a vibrant Hungarian restaurant, combining superb technique with all the mannerisms and string effects that go with the territory.
Carolyn returned in top voice for arias by Mozart and Rossini, and was especially impressive in Handel’s Where Shall I Fly, from Hercules, and where the orchestra deserved an extra pat on the back for their vigorous and effective accompaniment.
With just four congregational carols, this once more proved an ideally-balanced conclusion to yet another musical year, while drawing a line under the many similarly-charming Christmas evenings that have been enjoyed here in the past with the Ten Tors Orchestra and Choir.
PHILIP R BUTTALL