Halle Orchestra Review
Kendal Leisure Centre, Saturday October 20
The Halle Orchestra gave the second concert in the Lakeland Sinfonia’s 2018/19 series. The programme opened with conductor, Andrew Manze’s arrangement for brass and woodwind of Purcell’s short Fantasia on one note, written originally for a consort of viols. Manze’s transcription worked remarkably well with the one note, assigned in the original to one viol, being distributed around the five horns of the orchestra while brass and woodwind weaved Purcell’s intricate counterpoint around it. The piece lost nothing in the process of transcription: in fact, it opened it up to performance in a big space with the brass section bringing it to a magnificent conclusion.
After the Purcell, the orchestra was joined by the Chinese cellist Jian Wang who gave a beautiful account of Dvorak’s much loved Cello Concerto. His technique was breath-taking as he seemed to move effortlessly up and down the fingerboard, negotiating Dvorak’s numerous double-stopped chords with ease. There were some lovely tender moments in the performance and Jian Wang’s rapport with conductor and orchestra was evident throughout. Not surprisingly, the performance was met with enthusiastic applause from the audience.
The concert concluded with a performance of Vaughan William’s London Symphony, one of the composer’s favourite works according to one writer. For anyone unfamiliar with the symphonies of Vaughan Williams, this symphony is possibly the most approachable since it is packed with attractive melodic ideas and colourful orchestration. The work was originally intended as a kind of tone poem and although the composer denied that it was programmatic it does evoke the atmosphere of Edwardian London in a vivid manner: thus, in the opening section and again at the end of the work, we hear the Westminster Chimes played by the harp, the jingle of the handsome cab in the percussion section and the cry of a street seller in the violas.
Andrew Manze’s clear direction drew some fine playing from the Halle players. The string tone was rich and powerful, the woodwind clearly enjoyed their jaunty rhythms and the brass section added the necessary weight in their numerous fanfares while at no time overwhelming the strings and woodwind. The opening of the first movement, a series of rising fourths starting quietly deep down in the lower strings gradually rising through the orchestra in a huge crescendo, was magical and there were many other spine-chilling moments in the succeeding movements with some notable solo playing from section leaders.
The performance drew enthusiastic applause: surely this concert will live long in the memory of everyone who heard it.