Spring concert

Saturday 17 March 2007
Trevor Driver

“…a splendid mix of music from a dedicated group of musicians.”

Todmorden Orchestra made an offer their spring concert would be a splendid mix of music from a dedicated group of musicians – and we would go away from the concert in a happy and optimistic mood.

The offer was accepted by a pleasingly large audience at Todmorden Town Hall and I am convinced the majority would confirm the orchestra kept its promise, if enthusiastic applause was an indicator.

Any performance, be it vocal or instrumental, must get off to a good start to put the listener at ease. This task was given to the brass in the opening overture Ruy Blas – and they succeeded. This colourful piece can easily be described as typical Mendelssohn.

The appearance of cello soloist John Parsons was greeted with eager anticipation, as he took to the stage to play the wonderful Elgar Cello Concerto. Again, first impressions are important and the confidence, competence and obvious enjoyment at sharing his talent with the orchestra and listener, where the characteristics combined to produce those special moments that only live performance can achieve. He had excellent support from the orchestra, but thanks should also be given to the emergency services who kept their sirens quiet and the audience (not a single cough) during the exquisite adagio movement. Perhaps that praise should be extended to the local doctor! I hope John enjoyed his appearance in Todmorden – his performance was certainly appreciated by the audience.

The full orchestra was then allowed to demonstrate their all-round abilities in the tone poem En Sage by Sibelius. The strings, woodwind and brass all had their moments of glory – especially clarinetist Lesley Alston, and any critic looking for blemishes should be pointed to the colour, contrast, power and subtlety of this performance of the music of Finland’s great composer.

Dvorak’s Czech Suite required a smaller orchestra, with the necessary need for careful ensemble, and a well controlled performance of a variety of dances and folk melodies ended with a rousing and furious finale. Nicholas Concannon Hodges conducts in a simple style were histrionics are not an option, but this direction was immaculate and he only allowed any indulgence where the score demanded it. Sympathetic to the soloist, with clear indications to the players, he contributed to an outstanding evening of music – music typical of four popular composers – and a high quality performance typical of Todmorden Orchestra. But the final word of praise goes to Andrew Rostron. often called the unsung hero, this modest and unassuming violinist has given magnificent service as leader to the orchestra and the Choral Society and his excellence should not go unnoticed.