Review

TITLE: Classic FM at the Ballet- Orchestra of Opera North

VENUE: Huddersfield Town HallREVIEW: By William Marshall

THIS concert featured impassioned performances of some of the best-known music in the ballet repertoire.

Even in the absence of dancers, the imagery was vivid and the emotions ran high.

The concluding item was the music for the fourth act of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. It is so familiar, but the orchestra, conducted by Martin André, made it seem fresh, so that the emotional pull was as strong as ever.

This had been preceded by music that is probably even better known, a suite of dances from the same composer’s The Nutcracker, and the penultimate number, the famous Pas de deux, was performed with a wonderful swell of tormented romanticism. It was almost a shame that the suite did not end at this point.

The opening pieces of the concert were music from Delibes’ Coppelia, the clog dance from La Fille mal gardee by Hérold, and Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance. The concert was presented in association with Classic FM, and these numbers are much-loved gems from that station’s Hall of Fame.

The same goes for the famous Adagio from Khachaturian’s Spartacus and it was good to hear this movement in its entirety, as an extremely affecting, moving piece of music. The performance banished any lingering thoughts of Peter Gilmore and his mutton-chop whiskers in The Onedin Line.

After an elegant rendition of Chopin’s Les Sylphides, the first half concluded with three excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Again, this is very familiar fare but the orchestra performed it with great panache and the conclusion of the suite was played with raw, almost unnerving power.

The concert was compèred by Classic FM presenter Mark Forrest, who commented that 3pm on a Sunday afternoon was a highly civilised time for a concert. He was quite right, and the packed audience would presumably agree. Displaying flexibility by not always rigidly obeying the convention of the 7.30pm start time is something that can pay dividends in terms of audience numbers. The Orchestra of Opera North’s next appearance at the town hall is on Sunday February 12 – at 4pm this time.