Summer concert

Saturday 22 June 2013
Antony Brannick

“This was a committed and passionate performance from the orchestra.”

A cool and damp summer evening saw Todmorden Town Hall with a good audience for the latest concert by the Todmorden Orchestra, led by Andrew Rostron.

The programme began with an overture favourite – The Barber of Seville by Rossini. This sparkling work is full of verve and panache with many of Rossini’s characteristic signatures. On this occasion the long crescendos would have benefited from greater contrast but individual solo lines were well – played.

Next, we were treated to much darker colours in the Wesendonck Lieder by Richard Wagner. Soprano soloist Nicola Howard soon began to fill the hall with her controlled and carefully phrased singing. The depth she brought both in terms of her voice, and also the emotional drama within the music, was evident. These song settings were wonderfully supported by the orchestra and the balance was maintained throughout by conductor Nicholas Concannon Hodges.

If there had been shortcomings in the overture, the orchestra had settled in the Wagner and by the time of the dark opening of the final work in the programme, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, they were on fine form. This is a hugely demanding work. Not just physically but emotionally as well.

The first movement was secure and the rich string writing of the opening was well played. The second movement was thrillingly played. The opening horn solo – one of the finest in the repertoire – was beautifully played by Denise Bamford with much emotion apparent in the audience. At the climax of the movement, with a massive and passionate crescendo typical of the composer, there was a real sense of release.

There were some ensemble issues in the lighter third movement but the dark entry of the clarinets towards the end was well controlled. The final movement continued the dramatic nature of the work with the opening section well-defined. This time though, we were heading towards the light. The final flourish which concluded the symphony was full of excitement.

This was a committed and passionate performance from the orchestra. One looks forward to their next concert in November when an all-Russian programme will be heard.