The Britten Sinfonia filled the Theatre Royal for an impressive and very enjoyable concert performance of music both familiar and less known.

Called Eight Seasons the concert blended a lively and technically impressive rendition of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the lesser known but equally joyous ‘The Four Seasons Of Buenos Aires’ by Astor Piazzolla. The latter work draws much inspiration from Vivaldi and some other recognisable themes and melodies but has a distinctly South American flavour throughout. Piazzolla played the bandonéon, but under the guidance of renowned teacher Nadia Boulanger developed a distinctive style of composition that drew together the many sources that inspired him. After his death the Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov arranged the work including more fragments of Vivaldi’s original into the score. This is what we heard tonight, interweaved with Vivaldi’s original 1725 score.

This unlikely juxtaposition of a familiar original and an inspired derivative is perfectly performed by Thomas Gould, who leads the Britten Sinfonia in this concert. Gould is an accomplished and much recorded violinist who makes clear his passion and enthusiasm throughout the concert.

The evening started with an addition to the eight from composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, a piece called ‘Action-Passion-Illusion’ which served to show us the virtuosity of the performers before us, and has set me on a path of discovery to a composer I have not yet encountered, but will in the future.

Then we had the four seasons interleaved between the composers. This must have been the product of a lightbulb moment back at Britten Sinfonia HQ, but it works brilliantly, and turns a good concert into a memorable musical event. Under the direction of Thomas Gould the Britten Sinfonia push the boundaries of orchestrating their score a little bit further than we might expect, and the result is just sublime.
The Britten Sinfonia brings together some of the country’s leading soloists and chamber musicians too create exceptional musical events. Anyone who enjoyed this concert will be sure to follow them with interest to see what new delights await us.

This concert is part of a season of lunchtime and evening performances in Norwich from the Britten Sinfonia over the next few months. To find out more about this exciting programme please go to

© Julian Swainson 2019