It’s easy to make patronising allowances when you’re talking about the artistic aspirations of the very young.
But with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain you can evaluate their achievements from an adult professional benchmark, suggesting ways to improve whilst never indulging in head-patting.
Saturday’s concert from the under-13 (I kid you not) orchestra showed these frighteningly talented youngsters on their mettle in a demanding programme, immensely mature both in approach and quality of tone.
Occasional problems of tuning amongst the woodwind are afflictions which beset many more senior ensembles, and momentary rushing against the beat from various orchestral sections can be put down to youthful enthusiasm.
For these players have been assiduously trained by a dedicated corpus of adults, and will continue to develop.
Under the clear, wise and encouraging beat of Roger Clarkson they delivered impressive accounts of works by Samuel Barber (strings only), Tchaikovsky and Ian Laidler (woodwind, brass and percussion taking their turn with aplomb), but I would particularly like to home in on three other performances.
Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances were glorious, strings warmly singing, woodwind soloists unawed by their exposure.
Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was sparklingly given, the jauntily macabre bassoons a particular highlight. And the conclusion, the full version of Henry Wood’s Fantasia on Brtish Sea Songs was itself alone well worth the visit.
This is such a vivid showcase for every section of the orchestra, right from the fanfaring antiphony of brass groups at the opening. Particularly memorable here was the seamless phrasing of the two timpanists.
But most spectacular of all was the cello solo in Tom Bowling, beautifully delivered here, and untainted by the antics of the Last Night Prom idiots dahn at the Royal Albert Hall fleapit.