Two overtures and a concerto at the QEH

It might seem a little odd to begin and end a concert with overtures: but Elgar's Alassio and Cockaigne are really more tone poems, and the latter made a rousing finale to the evening. They bracketed two more recent English works: Cors de Chasse by Piers Hellawell , and Walton's Violin Concerto.

The Hellawell was premiered in 2004 and is for a large orchestra and trumpet and trombone soloists and draws its title from a poem of the same title by Apollinaire about memory. I have to say it's not my sort of music, and though there were some interesting sonorities I found the seeming randomness of the music palled by the end of its 14 minutes.

Walton's Violin Concerto was written for Jascha Heifitz and premiered in 1939: it's lyrical and brilliant and is certainly one of the 20th century's great violin concertos. The soloist was Matthew Trusler, who played with feeling and sensitivity though with occasional lapses of intonation on the highest sections. In all the pieces the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, played splendidly with a warm and rich tone aided by the hall's fine acoustic.

Though I can't say I much liked the Hallewell I was glad of the chance to hear something different: one of the problems of the concert schedule is the need for orchestras to play the familiar works in order to bring the audiences in. I'm fond of the Rachmaninoff 2nd, the obvious Beethoven and Schubert and so on; but I would like to hear a wider range of less familiar music - Reicha, Dyson, Korngold, and Dohnanyi (other than the Nursery Variations) for example (and these are hardly 'difficult' composers). In their current financial situation you can't blame orchestras for needing to fill the hall (particularly as the QEH is relatively small), and a concert of unfamiliar music would leave the hall half empty: but I wish audiences and schedulers alike would be just a little more adventurous.

Posted: Wed - October 11, 2006 at 11:07 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM