Support for soloists was excellent

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You can listen to a recording any time, but it can’t replicate the experience of a live performance.

This was what a packed Town Hall was treated to by Todmorden Orchestra under their conductor Nicholas Concannon Hodges and leader Andrew Rostron on Saturday evening, writes Heather Spencer.

We watched the fiddlers’ bows fly, we felt as much as heard the heavy brass, and we had the privilege of listening to some 50 amateur musicians playing for pleasure.

The evening started with Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture. In the introductory bars the principal wind players set the scene with beautiful tone and spot-on tuning. The orchestra made good use of varied dynamics, and the brass were rich and well-balanced.

Mozart may not have written much for flute but it was not for want of ability. His concerto for flute and harp allows both these instruments to show off their best features and our soloists in it this evening, Charlotte Walls and Louise Thomson, were a delight. Charlotte’s tone was silvery whether she was trilling on the flute’s high notes or languishing in the lower register, whilst Louise let the harp ring out in its trademark arpeggios from bass notes to tinkling top strings. The orchestra produced a good Mozart sound and supported the soloists well without ever swamping them.

The shifting sand that is Brahms’ 1st Symphony with its constantly changing sky of sunshine and dark clouds and an ever-present sense of unease is no easy terrain but the orchestra succeeded in navigating a sure course through it despite the odd danger moment.

Light and dark were well painted in the shifts in dynamic and from major to minor, sometimes within the space of a bar. The violins were particularly sweet in the second movement, and in the third the trumpet rang out like a clarion.

In the final movement it was the cellos’ turn to set the ominous tone with a well-measured pizzicato passage. Then out of this rose the first horn’s beautifully played solo.

The closing tutti passage was a triumph of ensemble playing.