Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra

2008/2009 season reviews


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November 2008 - Borodin, Elgar, Beethoven
February 2009 - Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky
April 2009 - Stravinsky, Mozart, Brahms

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

"Phil on an upswing"

Concert review by William Marshall, Huddersfield Examiner

Saturday's concert included accomplished performances of a Beethoven symphony and of Elgar's most famous orchestral work. When this is added to the fine account of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique at the orchestra's spring concert, it would certainly seem that, under principal conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa, the Phil is on an upswing.

On this form, its concerts can be recommended to any music lover.

An amateur orchestra can often assemble good woodwind, brass and percussion sections - and the Phil has certainly done this - but the body of sound and the intonation of the strings is usually the factor that most separates it from a professional ensemble.

On Saturday there were some transitory problems among the strings. In the opening movement of Beethoven's Seventh, the dotted rhythms seemed laboured. But by the end of the work the articulation was good, enabling the conductor to achieve an exciting, exhilarating conclusion.

At the start of the famous Nimrod section in Elgar's Enigma variations, the tuning slipped slightly and the tone was thin. But, again, this was soon rectified and the passage was restored to its usual serene and moving self.

It would seem, then, that a hesitancy at the beginning of pieces or movements is a problem that has to be overcome.

Once the orchestra has regained its confidence, it can achieve excellent results, so that on balance the Beethoven was an exciting performance and the infinite intricacies and subtleties of the Elgar were very well expressed.

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

"Town hall tribute to Felix"

Concert review by William Marshall, Huddersfield Examiner

Felix Mendelssohn, born in 1809, is one of a roster of composers whose various anniversaries are being celebrated this year. And the Huddersfield Phil paid him a heartfelt tribute in the town hall on Saturday.

When one takes into account that wintry weather had disrupted the rehearsal schedule, the concert, under Nicholas Cleobury, was a fine achievement.

The opening item was a suite from Mendelssohn's incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream - including the famous Wedding March.

At the beginning, and occasionally throughout, there were problems with the verticality of some chords. But much of the playing was excellent. The work includes much fluttering of fairy wings, which meant that sustained and technically demanding passages of light, quiet and detailed playing were called for from the strings, and they acquitted themselves very well.

There was good work elsewhere, such as a serene woodwind and horn chorale at the end of the Overture and a brief but beautifully executed flute passage at the conclussion of the Scherzo.

This piece was followed by Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, for which the soloist was David Le Page. He is not a player who produces an enormous body of sound - perhaps he is more of a chamber player - but his sweet, airy tone in this most melodic of concerti was very effective and the entire performance had a lightness of touch.

The concert concluded with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 4, which gave every section a chance to shine - stirring brass, excellent woodwind solos, especially from bassoon, flute and piccolo, and some very well executed pizzicato in the third movement.

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

"Review to follow"

Concert review by...

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