TITLE: Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra:

Smetana: Overture – The Bartered Bride

Dvorak: Violin Concerto

Brahms: Symphony No 1

VENUE: Huddersfield Town Hall

REVIEW: David Heathcote

SUPERB concert. Superb Orchestra. Superb conductor.

Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra presented an excellent programme of these Czech and German giants of music.

The story of how Smetana and Brahms, two established masters, embraced the young Dvorak was captured in the brilliant programme notes, which provided a friendly welcome for the audience.

The overture to The Bartered Bride was exciting and fast paced. Conductor Benjamin Ellin was in complete control of the mood and character of each phrase, masterfully guiding the orchestra on his creative journey.

The chemistry between Ellin and the orchestra is strong and he brings out some fine playing. They didn’t respond to his perfectly intended subito piano before the rousing ending of the piece, but this didn’t detract from their performance.

Dvorak’s Violin Concerto had a difficult start but the pleasure of experiencing the second movement was enough.

The young soloist Tadasuke Iijima was spellbinding, creating an incredible atmosphere through his enjoyment of the music, a developing mastery of the violin and the relationship with the orchestra. Sadly the horns broke the spell in the final passages of the second movement but Iijima rescued the atmosphere with his playfulness in the final movement.

Brahms found his first symphony a challenge, particularly as he felt the influence of earlier masters such as Beethoven and Wagner. Personally, I struggle with Brahms so found the references to Tristan und Isolde and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony a real pleasure, which the Phil played well apart from one section in the echoes of Wagner.

The pizzicato passages in the final movement were exciting and well managed by Ellin.

The horns regained their confidence giving way to the delightful flutes and then to an expansive and glorious finale in which the whole orchestra gave its all.