The Hallé, a Manchester based symphonic ensemble, played one night at the Leeds Town Hall. Pablo Gonzàlez came in at short notice to conduct this concert due to the indisposition of Lothar Koenigs. This resulted in scheduled opening work of Wagner’s A Faust Overture being replaced by Beethoven’s Overture: Egmont.

Many are familiar with Beethoven’s music; this work is based on the story about Egmont, a Flemish Count, and Clarchen his lover. There was a conventional approach in the overture and then the music tempo and pitch changed representing the emotions of the Spanish oppression, the plights of Egmont and Clarchen, and the consequences following the demise of the couple. The orchestra’s string, brass and woodwind sections worked in unison, the dynamism and enthusiasm made this story alive and directed by an energetic conductor.   This story is quintessential of The Enlightenment and Romanticism eras.

Weber is reputed for his woodwind compositions and Bassoon Concerto in F major is no exception. Gretha Tuls, The Hallé’s principal bassoonist, played the instrument intricately and beautifully throughout. The bassoon synchronised with the orchestra movements in playing this Romantic piece. Firstly, Allegro ma non troppo was played and Tuls contributed to its musical variations. Adagio, a slower piece showed how versatile the bassoon really is and played with the accompaniment of the strings and two horns. Next it led to a faster paced Rondo: Allegro with a polka like tempo. This music thought provoked one’s mind and perhaps rethink what place the bassoon’s relationship has in an orchestra.

Following the interval there was the final piece Brahms Symphony No 1 in C minor. Brahms was known is his music for advancing compositional and conventional techniques to creating new approaches to harmony and melody. A hallmark of the Romantic Movement! Throughout the symphony there were slow deepening introductions and then the pace and tempo changed unexpectedly by different sections of the orchestra especially by the strings and percussion. The finale, Adagio non troppo, ma con brio, invited the audience to appreciate the brass with an unassuming build up to the dramatic musical conclusion.  This offered one to sit back and enjoy subconsciously or not subconsciously Brahms’s ingenious workmanship which is performed by this world class orchestra and enthusiastically driven by Gonzàlez.

An excellent evening of classical music ended with a well known and deserving encore of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro Overture

Reviewer: Dawn Smallwood

Reviewed: 16th January 2016