TITLE: Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra
VENUE: Huddersfield Town HallREVIEW: By Chris Robins
BRAVO to Huddersfield’s non-professional orchestra for introducing us to composer Vasily Kalinnikov.
Rachmaninov persuaded the publisher Jurgensen to take on his Second Symphony. Without that endorsement – and earlier encouragement from Tchaikovsky – Kalinnikov would have disappeared without trace. That would have been a pity as his Second Symphony is worth hearing.
Russian in melody and western in orchestration, it does not have much to say, but says it in style, and it must be a joy to play. Wind and brass were sparky, but strings never quite generated the sustained depth of tone that romantic Russian music requires.
The Symphony is also a touch episodic, like Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, which were thrillingly played.
Conductor Nicholas Smith began the evening with Elgar’s Nimrod in tribute to Paul Michelson, Marjorie Glendinning and Sheila Garside, Huddersfield Philharmonic players and general champions of Huddersfield music-making who died earlier this year.
Smith has a classic and reliable technique – a “conductor from central casting” as the Free Times of Columbia, South Carolina, described him. But his programme biography description of his fireworks and laser concerts in the 1990s as “big success: a symphony orchestra makes money” is less reliable as that venture became financially unsustainable.
The concert finished gloriously with Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto in which soloist William Green was poetic and persuasive if a little tense in the second movement. A third year student at Christ Church, Oxford, he is a prodigious talent who will be conducting his College Orchestra in a couple of weeks time.