Consistently over many years EUCO has had many enthusiastic reviews from the press. Below are some recent comments:
An eclectic mix of works by Marcello, Mozart, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky and Haydn combined the exquisitely accomplished musicianship of the EU orchestra with the breath-taking virtuosity of Jess Gillam - Cambridge Independent
Last Saturday's concert from the European Union Chamber Orchestra admirably fitted into the brave new scheme of things. Although reduced to half their normal playing strength, the vitality of the smaller ensemble directed by Darragh Morgan was just as infectious. Anna Rosa Mari was the beguiling soloist in Vivaldi's Flute Concerto "La Tempesta di Mare" and the Flute Suite from Handel's Water Music. Mozart's Divertimento K138 emerged with taste and poise and Handel's Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No 1 had the desired crispness.
LEEDS TOWN HALL OCTOBER 10th 2020
Tonight’s concert ended with Haydn’s ‘49th Symphony’ – but should it really have been his 45th? The latest in the admirable concert series at the Corn Exchange featured the wonderful European Union Chamber Orchestra, certainly not playing for the last time though this was Brexit night. Their programme was fascinatingly different but one with an overarching sense of melancholy: the aforesaid Haydn – furious in pace, stark in contrasting mood but above all, wallowing in its minor keys.
Yet nothing, and no one, can be less mournful than the wonderful young saxophonist, Jess Gillam. She bounded on stage – her gold fringed jacket matching the shining gilt of her soprano sax. She beams with energy and charisma and played the first piece with immense power and fizz. The concerto by Marcello (a contemporary of Vivaldi) was a revelation with its bouncy joyful melodies and a beautifully languorous adagio. Gillam totally in tune with the chamber band danced and bobbed around the playful composition.
Next up was a fine rendition of a relative rarity from Mozart – the ‘Cassation No. 1’ which gave conductor, the violinist Eva Stegeman a chance to shine in many lovely solo parts. The centrepiece of the concert came next: Glazunov’s ‘Concerto for Saxophone’ described by Gillam as a great work among a very narrow repertoire for the normally jazzy instrument. I hadn’t heard it before but am keen to get to know it. Written in 1934 at the height of Stalin’s tyranny, the work is dreamy, romantic, and oddly English pastoral in feel. Gillam was stunning in the fiendish cadenza leading to a bright and optimistic finale. As the applause died down, she offered a wonderful encore – Duke Ellington’s bluesy ‘Sentimental Mood’ which ends with a sustained note that seemed to defy normal lung capacity. The second half of the evening opened with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Elegy for Strings’. It was quite exquisitely played – sad but lovely especially with its repeated simple melody, haunting in tone, the orchestra in perfect balance. A delicious programme came to a powerful close with Haydn’s 49th symphony. Perhaps given this was the EU orchestra, it should have been that 45th – the so-called ‘Farewell’! - The Cambridge Critique - 31/01/20
This small group of musicians play with a tight determination, a ringing musicality that never falters. Led by Hans Peter Hofmann who played with passion as if his life were on the table, it was a perfectly programmed concert. - Arts Scene Wales (Cardiff 01/05/19)
THE 20 musicians of the European Union Chamber Orchestra play standing up and this alters the ambience of their concerts to a remarkable degree. Liberated from a formal seating layout, the musicians actually look happier; they have space for a more demonstrative and emotional style of playing. The sight of the violins and viola players raising their bows in total unanimity, high above their heads, at the end of a movement creates a small frisson of excitement. - Wharfedale Observer - 27/04/19
Of an exceptional concert of Shostakovich, Honegger and Fiorini conducted by Brian Schembri in Valletta, 2018 Cultural Capital of Europe:
A real barnstormer performance of Mozart’s glorious Symphony No 29 in A major. Written when Mozart too was just 18, the beauty, detail and perfection of this symphony was burnished and brought out so wonderfully by the small band of performers that the last piece of the evening felt every bit as spectacular as the first half – no mean feat.
Directed from the violin by Eva Stegeman, they began with an excellent account of Bach’s 3rd Brandenburg Concerto, tempi perfectly judged, textures clear; a performance with a real feeling of spontaneity
Hans-Peter Hofmann's approach [to Schubert's 5th Symphony] ensured well-judged pacing, sensitive phrasing and much beautiful playing from the orchestra. Inner detail was allowed to shine though in a performance which combine precision with affection.
The two first bars of the ‘Simple Symphony’ op.4 (1934) of the 21-year old Benjamin Britten sufficed to give the impression that a technically and musically accomplished Ensemble was playing. With Mozart’s A major Symphony K.201 EUCO brought the evening to a close in convincing and inspiring manner. A Mozart interpretation which bounced along with both lightness and excitement. - LUXEMBURG WORT
... the instrumentalists demonstrated impressive powers of expression as they explored the nostalgic and melancholic themes. - CAMBRIDGE NEWS
In less assured hands, Grieg’s delicate yet defiant melodic lines might be lost amidst the more regretful passages, but the orchestra makes the piece their own with a stand-out performance. - STARS (download full review)
These are magnificent performances. This is the best disc of orchestral music by Mozart I have heard for several years, the playing as such being of very fine quality, always intensely musical and fully responsive to the demands of the scores at any one time. - INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW “OUTSTANDING AWARD” Robert Matthew-Walker
Too often, Mozart is played to sound pretty. Here, the EUCO digs in and romps through Symphony No.29 with a clear sense of excitement. As for the Kassation and Divertimento, they too are wonderful. The EUCO treats these lesser works with the same care they treat the symphony, making the program so impressive overall as to defy criticism. The playing is never less than excellent. - CLASSIC CD REVIEW - EUCO/ Hans-Peter Hofmann
The wonderful European Union Chamber Orchestra played with beautiful, dancing transparency. - DAILY TELEGRAPH
The day was really saved by the fresh and fantasy-filled playing of the European Union Chamber Orchestra. - THE TIMES
EUCO’s concert in Santiago,Chile, was voted “Best Concert of the Year” by the Chilean Circle of Arts Critics in 2011.