|Blowing our own trumpet since 1931|
|Fantasy Overture - Romeo and Juliet||-||Tchaikovsky||Piano Concerto No4 in G||-||Beethoven|
|Soloist - Martino Tirimo||Symphony No5 in C minor op67||-||Beethoven|
The Harrogate Symphony Orchestra's Spring Concert was given in the Royal Hall in a programme mainly given over to works by Beethoven, his fourth Piano Concerto and fifth Symphony. The soloist in the concerto was the very fine pianist Martino Tirimo on his second visit to Harrogate.
The concert opened with Tchaikovsky's ‘Romeo and Juliet' Fantasy Overture, perhaps a strange choice considering the programme's later content. What could be wrong with an all-Beethoven programme, or is that not acceptable to today's audiences?
In this overture Tchaikovsky creates a dramatic work developing three key elements of the play on a symphonic scale, those of love between Romeo and Juliet, family conflict between the Montagues and Capulets, and religion with Friar Laurence's theme.
The solemn introduction, the ‘hymn-like' Friar's theme, was rather tense and perhaps a little under tempo, but soon the orchestra settled into this long section with some excellent sounding lower strings giving a hint of the forthcoming drama.
The Montagues and Capulets conflict was very well played although at times the clashing swords seemed rather quiet. In the lovers section the strings gave us a suitable full rich sound with fine assistance from the cor anglais and the horns.
This was a fine dramatic performance with Bryan Western's clear direction allowing the orchestra to respond well to all the many changing moods in this fine example of Tchaikovsky's orchestral writing.
The choice of the two Beethoven works allowed the audience to compare these contrasting pieces that originated from the same basic elements, especially the ideas of the repeated notes at the beginning of each of their first movements.
Saturday's audience heard a wonderful performance of the fourth piano concerto from the soloist Martino Tirimo. From the opening gentle piano chords to the final presto the soloist produced a succession of glorious moments. At times one felt a fine ensemble between orchestra and piano in what is really a chamber work.
It was so nice to see the soloist turning to listen to the orchestra when the piano was silent, reflecting the soloist's experience in directing from the keyboard.
In the first movement the soloist produced some beautiful lyrical playing between the flowing scale passages octave runs and trills, all performed with equal accuracy, and to crown all that a huge extended cadenza showing real virtuosity.
The second movement's discussion between heavy unison strings and calm piano chords is one of Beethoven's master strokes.
Here again we heard fine playing with the contrasting elements being well realised. The piano finally soothes the strings and this leads the listener into the final rondo movement.
The ensemble between soloist and orchestra was again excellent.
The liquid piano scales and arpeggios contrasting with the beautifully lyrical playing was a joy to hear. The chamber music nature of the work was never forgotten, the orchestra first supporting the soloist and then the roles being reversed.
How pleasing to hear lovely moments for the orchestra such as the short section for two violas and one cello, later the same idea for two clarinets and two bassoons.
A lovely performance from the orchestra and Martino Tirimo always emphasizing the lyrical nature of the work. The fifth symphony began with probably the best known opening statement in all symphonic music, a rhythmic idea or an extensive theme depending on your viewpoint, although the rhythmic idea permeates through the whole symphony.
The orchestra sounded rather insecure at the beginning of the movement and it was some time before it settled down to the four note rhythmic motif. All was fine in the exposition repeat and the movement continued at a pace with the two horns performing well and not to be outdone, the oboe, in contrast, producing a lovely poignant cadenza towards the end of the movement.
The orchestra were now feeling more comfortable and continued to produce some fine playing throughout the second movement, a set of variations using two contrasting themes.
All the woodwind section had their moments, and were always well supported by the string section. The scherzo after its somewhat mysterious opening, unleashed itself on us with again the two horns, their march-like theme now a triplet figure transformed from the first movement's opening motif. A most exciting sound was produced.
In the trio, the basses were excellent in their scurrying passages. Dragonetti would have been proud of them. This was a most enjoyable concert performed in a superb hall. With all the questions surrounding the Royal Hall, where will future concerts be given in such a fine venue with equally fine acoustics if the town loses the use of this facility?
- Neil E Richmond