Haslemere Musical Society held its first concert of the season at St Christopher’s Church in Haslemere, instead of Haslemere Hall, on October 15.

It began with Domenico Cimarosa’s overture to his little known opera The Secret Marriage (1792). The orchestra began strongly with a huge sound in the superb acoustics of the church.

Mozart’s popular Clarinet Concerto in A, K622, was offered next and featured a very fine performance by principal clarinettist Helen Owlett. Her son Luke, 17, played oboe. They are pictured with conductor James Ross.

After the interval came French composer Henri Duparc’s orchestral poem Aux Étoiles. I don’t think this particular piece rises above the ordinary as it has little memorable melodic content.

The evening closed with Camille Saint-Saëns’ Second Symphony, composed in 1859. Although not as popular as his Organ Symphony (No. 3), this four-movement symphony begins with a fugue which has a cyclic connection to the other movements. The second movement opens simply on a single bass note and progresses in the manner of a salon gavotte. The scherzo is stormy and dramatic, with a central, syncopated section.

The final movement has a tarantella-like dance, brilliant trumpet work and a quote from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, yet retains its fervent and boisterous sense of originality.

Although I noticed some suspect tuning in the violins, this didn’t detract from the quality of the performances. A most enjoyable evening was had by all.

The society’s next concert, at Haslemere Hall on December 3, features works by Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, Adam and Vivaldi.

Roger Saunders