The Sheldonian witnessed another smash-hit performance by COO last week when it performed Fauré's Requiem. It is hard, in fact, to speak too highly of the orchestra. At times it seemed unearthly .... the music shimmered with a weightless mystery and the supple arabesques supplied by the strings, below the gently drifting male voices, made you hold your breath. Oxford Times

This concert meant a night out mainly for the brass, percussion and wind. Their flagrant relish of the Milhaud was contagious; the clarinet's attack and swooning introduction to the Gershwin thrilled the soul. Where the strings impresses was in the Wagner, (Siegfried Idyll) with its delicacy of texture and tonalities which affirm such radiant hope, and later on in Copland's Quiet City and Barber's Adagio, performed with restrained emotion under Roger Payne. Undoubtedly this fine and friendly orchestra was playing at its best. Oxford Times
About the new year concert:

Roger Payne the sort of musician I love. His whole personality rather recalls Sir Thomas Beecham. Among other things, he refuses to prove a point - just communicates the tempo to the orchestra (as Wagner says the conductor should do - nothing else) and helps them only if they need help. The second half brought us Roger Payne's Strauss, enlivened by amusing introductory comments in the Beecham manner (though fortunately a lot more charitable). Payne admirably brought out the differences not just in tempo but in character between waltz, polka and mazurka, aided by some virtuoso playing by the different orchestra sections. Oxford Times












Roland Roberts, leading this expert group of players, clearly knows all about 18th century 'terraced dynamics'. He allowed Handel's marvellous crescendo - written into the music - to develop of itself, producing an effect far more powerful than any of the familiar 19th century arrangements. His own playing achieved just the right mixture of refinement and almost casual virtuosity.

The piano soloist was Tom Poster. If you're after a pianist to capture the elegance and clarity of Ravel's G major Concerto, you need look no further. What he showed us on this occasion  was a penchant also for rough-housing, as required in the Rhapsody in Blue. Gershwin takes no prisoners among pianists content merely to twinkle. In his usual fresh way, Poster raised his own storm. Oxford Times

The real joy of the evening was Tom Poster's masterly account of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Parikian relaxed his beat, and Poster lost himself in rhythmic subtleties and dreamy chords- for a moment, the Sheldonian became a Manhattan nightclub. Oxford Times

An interpretation of great depth and maturity - I couldn't help wondering if this was not much as Brendel sounded at this age. Oxford Times