The Pennine Sinfonia is one of the region’s newest orchestras and is also one of the most unusual ensembles that can be regularly heard in Huddersfield, writes music reviewer Joshua Goodman.
Twice a year this collection of professional, student and amateur orchestral players come together for a day and a night – rehearsing throughout the day and giving a performance in the evening.
All of this is done to raise money for Jessie’s Fund - a charity helping children with additional and complex needs through music.
At their fourth outing they showed just how much can be achieved with barely no rehearsal when they delivered an ambitious programme with panache.
It was fitting that the concert began with a performance of Ragnarok, composed by the Yorkshire composer Arthur Butterworth who was closely involved in the orchestra’s formation and conducted their first performance in 2014 just months before his death.
In this barely-known overture, tempestuous melodic lines and swirling textures were handled deftly by conductor George Kennaway as the whole ensemble produced a bold sound that did the work’s Nordic inspiration justice.
Mussorgsky’s Night on a Bare Mountain – including exquisite woodwind solo and a refreshing detour to Baroque Venice with Gabrieli’s 8th Sonata for double brass choir – paved the way for the programme’s main attraction, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
Kennaway led the forces in this iconic work with a real intensity, delivering rousing and sometimes choking moments of pathos and drama. The orchestra was joined by international concert pianist Jayson Gillham who can next be heard performing this work in March with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
His presence seemed to inspire sensational musical energy in the orchestra.
This great musicianship is all the more impressive given the orchestra’s process — and one which I’m looking forward to reliving at their next concert in the autumn.