Todmorden Orchestra gave another example of what they are able to achieve at last Saturday’s autumn concert.
The programme was demanding and the audience which filled Todmorden Town Hall gave an enthusiastic reception to the hard work put in by soloist, orchestra and conductor.
The evening opened with Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave and from the first opening rumble to the triumphant climax the orchestra demonstrated its ability to vary levels of excitement with moments of calm, responding to the atmosphere of the piece. With 65 players they ably reflected the changing moods of the march with its Eastern tones.
We all knew the big tune was coming … and when it did, the orchestra delivered everything you were expecting!
There was a change of programme for the concerto. Martyn Jackson, who is well known and much admired was indisposed. His place was taken at comparatively short notice by the Polish musician Bartosz Woroch, a player with an already impressive track record.
And no-one went away disappointed, as could be heard in the cheers which greeted his completion of this technically challenging piece. Maintaining a ‘personal’ interpretation, the audience was drawn into the music more as participants than spectators in the collaborative nature of this performance.
The work is scored for a reduced number of players and was largely quiet in delivery. Tension was achieved by the different sections with rhythm and tempo deliberately paced to maintain where needed the understated mood of the opening. Bartosz played with little conspicuous bravura but great technical prowess.
Overall, Bartosz Woroch showed unfailing attention to execution whilst the orchestra, alternating fluidity and thrusting sequences, showed essential restraint and an impressive level of musicianship.
The Symphony, Rachmaninov’s First, and no mean piece for this orchestra which has repeatedly shown itself capable of doing justice to its chosen repertoire, takes full advantage of what we have come to identify as some of the hallmarks of Rachmaninov: huge dynamic and tempo contrasts, the interplay of the different sections, the exploitation of those sections’ strengths, the constant introduction of the unexpected, no passage allowed to extend, the manipulation of the audience who is repeatedly forced to ask, “What will he do next?” and a few moments later, finds out.
Perhaps the last word to the conductor Nick Colcannon Hodges: “Were you satisfied?” - “There are always corners.”
Nick, trust the audience: the corners are getting fewer and further between. Well done!