TITLE: Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra
VENUE: Huddersfield Town Hall
REVIEW: by William Marshall
DURING her introductory remarks, conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa raised doubts over whether she,Ša Venezuelan, could do interpretive justice to an all-English programme.
She was being light-hearted. But if the programme had been all-German, all-Italian or all-French, the jest would probably not have been made. English music is still not deemed to possess the universality of music from the Continent. Even composers of the acknowledged greatness of Elgar or the esteem of Vaughan Williams are regarded as rather parochial, possessed of qualities that only we natives can appreciate.
This attitude might never be shifted. But Ms Luis-Bassa need not fear. She made an excellent job of some quintessentially English repertoire.
T he concert opened with the very familiar Overture to The Wasps, by Vaughan Williams. This has some beautiful, sweeping themes but also presents technical challenges, not least in the impressionistic opening bars. The Phil carried these off with aplomb, making one of their best starts to a concert that I have heard.
Elgar’s Romance for BassoonŠ is a relatively slight work. But it was good to hear this attractive rarity, and soloist David Robinson did justice to his part – very well conceived for the instrument – whether it consisted of lyrical melody or fast passagework.
It probably does help to know something of Cornwall’s topography and traditions to appreciate fully Malcolm Arnold’s Four Cornish Dances. But the inventiveness and orchestrational brilliance of this work could be grasped by anyone.Š
Hearing a live performance of a much-recorded and broadcast work such as this always opens the ears to inner intricacies, such as an extremely tricky rhythmic passage for tuba and basses in the first dance, carried off well by the players. The haunting quality of the second dance was beautifully realised by conductor and orchestra.
There are many haunting passages in the London Symphony, by Vaughan Williams, which concluded the concert. The final fade to nothingness, as London disappears from view, was exceptionally well handled and the audience response showed that subtlety and quietness can be just as effective as a big, showboat finish.
Of course, the symphony also has its rousing, roof-raising moments and these came over well. But among the best features of this fine performance were the soft, atmospheric and well-taken solos on viola, cor anglais and cello.