My only acquaintance with the English Chamber Orchestra prior to this evening was through their excellent recording of the complete Mozart Piano Concerti, with Daniel Barenboim as soloist.
Suitably, a 'classical' theme underlined this evening's concert with the Orchestra offering up warhorses from Mozart, Prokofiev, Mendelssohn, and perhaps incongruously, Fauré.
The proceedings began with Prokofiev's homage to Haydn, the Classical Symphony; it received a crisp and assured performance. Each movement had character, clarity and dynamism - qualities that are ever-present in both the Russian and the Austrian's works for orchestra.
Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 featured next, with the orchestra's conductor, Howard Shelley, as soloist and amusing the crowd by walking on stage with an iPad, proceeding to use it to read an electronic copy of the score with page turns managed by a Bluetooth footswitch!
Shelley was also equal to the technical feats of the piece itself; it is a truly virtuosic piece, if somewhat lightweight. In any case, Shelley ably demonstrated why he is a trusted interpreter of classical and romantic piano concerti.
After the interval we were treated to Fauré's Pavane, which was graceful enough, but I failed to see any logic behind its inclusion in the programme.
The classical theme was restored by the last piece with Mozart's Jupiter Symphony. ECO's rendition was fittingly magisterial, excepting Shelley's dropping of his baton in the second movement - such was his Jovian passion!
Nevertheless, a good programme adroitly executed by this seasoned conductor and his ultra-professional orchestra.