Strong backing for superb soloists at delightful summer concert

A DELIGHTFUL programme for a summer evening was given at the Town Hall by the Todmorden orchestra, conductor Nicholas Concannon Hodges, Todmorden Choral Society, conductor Antony Brannick, and soloists Therese Vincent, soprano, and Gary Martin, baritone.

As it’s not possible to do justice to every item, I have chosen some of the highlights, writes Katherine Adler.

Therese Vincent’s lyrical “Russalka” sensitively echoed, in parts, by the flute and clarinet, “La Traviata” the singing beautifully capturing Violetta’s conflicting emotions, also effortlessly sailing through coloratura passages.

Lehar’s “Meine lippen, sie kussen so heisse” deliciously and playfully beguiling. Ms Vincent sang with lovely warmth and sweet tone, very expressive of the different characters’ feelings.

Gary Martin’s rich voice, dynamic range and sensitivity, took us by storm from the first note to the last: the agile “Figaro” with his wit and dash, the proud “Toreador” sweeping all before him, and the beguiling “Don Giovanni” contrasted greatly with his “Germont” conveying warmth and kindness, yet inflexible strength of the father towards his son, protecting his “best interests”

The Orchestra, opening in fine style, with Wagner’s “Meistersingers’ Prelude”, played throughout the evening, also supporting soloists and choir. This included some fine solos from cor anglais in Russalka, trumpet in Aida’s “grand march” and bassoon in “La ci darem la mano”

“Eugene Onegin’s Polonaise” was full of verve and panache with woodwinds tripping in cheerful harmony in contrast to the warmly lyrical cello section playing as one, and “Tales of Hoffmann’s “Barcarolle” with its lovely unison string playing so pleasantly soothing in contrast to the fiery Toreador.

“The Polotsvian Dances” with lovely clarinet flute and oboe solos, wild dance, then the much-loved “stranger in paradise” melody, beautifully sung by the choir, the underlying quietly galloping pulse blossoming into full orchestra with rich brass and percussion ensemble, the cross rhythms, and full throated choir, was a truly wonderful finale.

As if that were not enough, an encore: a duet from the “Merry Widow”: the image of that charming couple singing and dancing together so gracefully and harmoniously was the icing on the cake.

What a feast: our own orchestra and choral society pulling out all their stops and two superb opera singers utterly delighting us. This was one of the most enjoyable summer concerts we have had.

The choir and orchestra are grateful to Todmorden Town Council for arranging a support grant to stage this outstanding concert.