One of the main attractions of this interesting programme given by the Chiltern Camerata was the Concerto for Organ, strings and timpani by Francis Poulenc and it was to do justice to this attractive work that this concert was presented in All Saints Church in Marlow with its fine Father Willis organ.

At the start the theme running through the programme – summer in the late thirties - was introduced by Sam Laughton, the orchestra’s conductor, followed by a brief, yet pertinent and interesting, description of each piece before it was played.

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The organ soloist was Mark Brafield who, like Sam Laughton, combines a career in music with one in law. His considerable talents were fully employed in extracting from this wonderful organ the full range of sounds that it had to offer. In this he was ably supported by orchestra and conductor who managed to inspire his players into producing some special sounds – some not unlike those one expects from French orchestras! Of particular note in the strong orchestral playing was the impressive double bass line. This was a very happy choice of work to open the concert.

The Barber Adagio for strings demands from the players a variety of string techniques and explores a considerable range of tonal effects. The conductor was able to generate from the orchestra the real feeling for this piece and there were a number of moments of breath-taking beauty.

The intensity of the mood was lightened during the playing of The Two Aquarelles by Debussy, especially the second with its strong folktune idiom, yet they were obviously greatly enjoyed enjoyed by the players and audience alike.
The Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge by Benjamin Britten is acknowledged by all orchestras as an extremely difficult piece to play and it is to the credit of conductor and orchestra to have chosen to play it in the first place and then to give such an acceptable performance on the night. It provided a fitting conclusion to a very interesting concert much enjoyed by the sizeable audience.

David Hayes