TITLE: Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra

VENUE: Huddersfield Town Hall

VENUE: David Heathcote

SLAITHWAITE Philharmonic Orchestra gave a magnificent performance of works by three major figures of 20th Century British music.

The concert was dedicated to conductor Benjamin Ellin’s mentor, the late Sir Colin Davis – another major figure in Britain’s musical heritage.

The orchestra’s final concert of the season opened with an excellent performance of Malcolm Arnold’s ‘Four Scottish Dances’.

SPO’s typically helpful programme notes created an amusing picture for a passage in the second movement where the image of a drunken husband was beautifully created by the orchestra.

SPO deserves huge congratulations for its boldness in programming Tippett’s Piano Concerto, a very difficult piece that was masterfully crafted under the brilliant Benjamin Ellin. It was a privilege to experience the playing of the distinguished piano soloist Simon Callaghan, who was elected a Steinway Artist in 2012. Callaghan’s relationship with the music and the orchestra was exceptional. His expressive note placing in the most sensitive passages was exquisite and his mastery of the difficult rhythmic passages in the second movement was truly impressive.

The third movement was also impressive and Tippett’s clever echo between the trumpets and the flutes was well played in the orchestra. Callaghan excelled in the finale, creating an electric atmosphere with the exciting rhythms and themes that seemed reminiscent of Tippett’s reportedly favourite composer. As with the upper strings in the Walton, the cellos occasionally suffered intonation problems, which were highlighted in passages with the piano.

Walton’s Symphony No 1 generated a rousing finale to a wonderful year of music from SPO.