Vienna… and beyond
“A fine year of first-class music-making can be anticipated, and I urge listeners of live music to continue supporting this remarkable orchestra.”
On Saturday 18 January 2020, to welcome another musical year, Todmorden Orchestra presented a varied evening of masterpieces largely from the European Belle Epoque.
The first half of the programme was a clever mix of pieces, some light-hearted, others much darker. It was good to hear some quintessential English sounds with a series of vignettes by Philip Lane entitled Cotswold Folk Dances. The pastoral sweep of the music promised lazy summer days ahead! Russian angst was well-represented with Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet strutting theme, and a stirring Khachaturian finale.
The sound of the orchestra was well-balanced with strong woodwind and brass, ably supported by imaginative percussion and timpani. The large string section was nuanced and soared effortlessly to great heights.
The second part was on more familiar territory: a traditional mix of Viennese lollipops brought a warm glow to an ever-enthusiastic large audience. There was a lovely cello solo played with great sensitivity by David Leys in the Von Suppe overture Morning, Noon and Night: a real stand-out moment. A piece less familiar was Gavotte Stephanie, an elegant melody conjuring up a bygone era.
Of course, it has now become mandatory to include The Blue Danube and Radetsky March as finale pieces. I couldn’t help wondering how the turbulent River Calder could be represented musically. The audience loved accompanying the March, which provided a hand-clapping opportunity to participate (twice!).
Again, many congratulations to Nicholas Concannon Hodges who conducted with aplomb, and good-humour. It was a pity neither he, nor indeed any of the orchestral members were credited in the programme, which was otherwise beautifully produced.
A fine year of first-class music-making can be anticipated, and I urge listeners of live music to continue supporting this remarkable orchestra.