A large audience greeted the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Christchurch, Cockermouth, when they played for Cockermouth Music Society (in association with Orchestras Live assisted by Arts Council England). Richard Tognetti directed the string orchestra who responded with a will to his inspirational leadership and quite exceptional violin playing. Mozart’s Divertimento in F was a graceful and charming opening to the proceedings, immediately showing the wonderful unified sound these musicians produce, with deeply satisfying attention to dynamics and control of tempo. Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No 10, written at the age of fourteen, was given a rousing and exhilarating performance which it richly deserves (providing a foretaste of the great Octet written two years later). Tognetti then played the solo violin part in Haydn’s Concerto in C with crystal clear intonation and great control, eagerly seconded by the orchestra, who at all times give off a positive and infectious excitement, immensely attractive to the listener.
The second half brought lyrical treatment of Grieg (Erotique) and Elgar (Sospiri) and concluded with Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings, as the orchestra continued to excel, with their near perfect interpretation of the different moods of each movement and demonstrating an amazing ability to play very fast without ever losing cohesion or clarity. A heartfelt response from the audience provoked an encore, the Adagio from a Mahler Symphony, quite beautifully put across, with the added bonus of lovely harp playing from Tanya Houghton. What a joy it is for a music lover to experience an orchestra like this, who showed their love of what they do by looking pleased and happy as everyone applauded vociferously.