CEE IN THE PRESS
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD: Dorset and Wednesbury
The CEE played in the World Premiere of Andrew Downes' opera based on the novel by Thomas Hardy.
Reviewed in OPERA NEWS, JANUARY 2008:
"The orchestra for this performance, the Central England Ensemble, is a striking young group formed from players fresh out of college. The strings were impressive, as were the sly bassoon for hapless Fanny Robin (Kate Hopkins), the jettisoned lover of caddish Sergeant Troy (Simon Walton), characterized with a single trombone and strings; a piccolo-led repeating phrase... effective use of a solo horn; and a well-judged piano part embedded within the orchestra."
MICHAEL JONES, BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY JOURNAL AUTUMN 2007
"The Central England Ensemble - 23 highly-professional players, took up the north aisle and their sound easily filled the church... The conductor was David Trippett... he kept a tight ship on course despite the distance between orchestra and stage."
CHURCH TIMES NOVEMBER 2007
"This finely sustained, equally narrative-centred new opera was performed in the enabling acoustic of St Mary's, Wednesbury, by a superb group of vocal soloists... and an even more impressive bunch of instrumentalists, the Central England Ensemble..."
DUNCAN HONEYBOURNE FOR ISM JOURNAL
"David Trippett directed the Central England Ensemble, an orchestra of much personality, with great verve and dynamism. Orchestral playing was strongly projected and muscular..."
MARION COX FOR THE DORSET ECHO JULY 2006
"The orchestra, under the baton of David Trippett, interprets the lush score with robust grace..."
TOUR OF NORTH GERMANY
NORDSEE ZEITUNG MARCH 2005
"LIKE A SUMMER MORNING OVER THE THAMES
With warm English timbre: young orchestra from Birmingham gives nobility to 25th "Tonspur" concert.
... the predominantly youthful orchestra from the Midlands of England showed itself to be conscious of its tradition by beginning with the Overture to the Oratorio St Paul by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. The performance recalled the ( Birmingham) Town Hall concerts in which the composer once, as conductor and organist, performed his works. The soft warm sound of the strings and the powerful fullness of the brass created the characteristic English quality of sound which shies away from exaggerated sound experiments.
Similar treatment was given to the Concerto for Clarinet by the Bremen born clarinettist Andreas Salm... The orchestra accompanied with careful attention.
The solo part of the next work, Celtic Rhapsody, for soprano and orchestra opus 81 by Andrew Downes proved itself to be just as perfectly tailored. Paula Downes... sang the three settings of Celtic poetry. Her ethereally light, almost choirboy soprano led with clear projection and immaculate intonation through the moving, bygone world of poetry. The orchestra accompanied as one the gentle melismas.
The young conductor, Anthony Bradbury, was throughout, and not least in the 2 nd Symphony in G Major by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a supremely good and competent director. Lively and flexible, he sculpted the panorama of the British capital in The London Symphony. The weightless voice of a summer morning over the Thames was as present as the humorous cry of the docklands or a rousing inner city march. The work concluded with a gossamery dying away of the strings. The guests from Birmingham must have been pleased by the warm applause."
BIRMINGHAM POST JUNE 2005
"YOUNG MUSICIANS ON A MARVELLOUS MISSION
Four years old, the Central England Ensemble has established itself as a major force among the regions amateur orchestras.
Many of its young members are musical professionals in their own right, but they come together several times a year with the aim of combining the work of Midland composers with established classics, and Sunday's concert was a gratifying vindication of their mission statement.
... some splendid individual talent expressing itself in instrumental solos.
... Ivor McGregor was in the audience to hear the premiere of his In memoriam Stevie Smith... this was a well rehearsed and committed reading under Daniele Rosina, building to a fine climax.
There were many exciting aspects to these performers' reading of Tchaikovsky's magnificent Fifth Symphony: fluency, subtle shadings and a solid brass section."
BIRMINGHAM POST OCTOBER 2004
"CAPITAL NIGHT OF ELOQUENCE
... Sunday's well marshalled reading from the remarkable Central England Ensemble under the sympathetic and clear direction of Anthony Bradbury was fresh, vigorous and willing, wonderful qualities which I hope these young professionals will never lose.
The haunting cor anglais solos were evocatively delivered, and other solo contributions all added their lustre to what was an impressive performance.
Part of CEE's mission statement is to promote the work of Midland composers... Andrew Downes Concert Overture Towards a New Age... (what an excellent percussion section)... the delivery was neat and alert...
... an exhilarating account of Richard Strauss' Rosenkavalier Suite, where the CEE horns covered themselves with glory, strings came through the searching challenges commendably, and Anthony Bradbury shaped a fine sense of climax."
BIRMINGHAM POST JANUARY 2003
"October 2001 saw the launch of this enthusiastic orchestra. Champions of Midland composers and consisting mainly of undergraduate and postgraduate musicians, they fulfilled their promise with a fine programme of English works played to a keen capacity audience.
Layers of rich string texture opened Michael Whitcroft's gentle Rhapsody for Guitar and Strings, with soloist Simon Dinnigan.
... The brass phalanx set the scene with wonderful unity, but too many stars shine in this orchestra to mention them individually. Notably... some fine playing from leader Anna Downes... splendid well-matched timpani underpinning from both players, tingle factor from seven horns... excellent contributions from the woodwind team."
BIRMINGHAM POST OCTOBER 2001
"RICH AND FULL BODIED LAUNCH
The newly formed Central England Ensemble should last long beyond the first few halting efforts after which so many amateur orchestras fizzle out.
It has... some remarkable young talent amongst its ranks, considerable audience goodwill and a determined and efficient conductor in Rachel Hyde.
Sunday's launch concert began with Mozart's scintillating Marriage of Figaro overture, Hyde's love of opera giving this account plenty of atmosphere, the orchestral sound rich and full bodied.
The violins... can certainly produce some beautifully shaped phrasing, as evidenced in the first movement of Schumann's lovely Piano Concerto. Duncan Honeybourne was the soloist... his tone rich and full... he knows how to listen to the orchestra.
CEE's mission statement is to feature works by Midland composers, and Andrew Downes' Second Symphony... was devotedly rendered."