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Hushed intensity

Elgar, Brahms and Strauss in Derby,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Pairing the youthful vigour and optimism of Elgar's Froissart Overture with his autumnal Cello Concerto was a neat piece of programming. The Hallé's Assistant Conductor, André de Ridder, directed a spirited performance of Froissart, full of electric energy and warm, expansive phrasing. The piece does tend to ramble, though, without a firm hand on the tiller, and this performance didn't quite succeed in holding it all together.

Ridder and the Hallé's partnership with Alban Gerhardt in the Cello Concerto was outstanding in every way. Gerhardt impressed with the quiet dignity and strength of his playing, producing a rounded, even tone throughout the whole range of his instrument, and avoiding undue emoting. The heart of the performance was the slow movement, which withdrew further and further into Elgar's private inner world with a hushed intensity that kept us all on the edge of our seats.

Alban Gerhardt
Alban Gerhardt

After the interval, Brahms's Tragic Overture, in a reading of granite-like strength, made an intriguing upbeat to Strauss's Tod und Verklärung. This was a powerful account, savouring all the richness of Strauss' score, the opening charged with quiet expectation, the dramatic central section fiery and dynamic, and the surging climaxes of the ending allowed to bloom without over-indulgence.

Copyright © 7 December 2005 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


André de Ridder conducted The Hallé Orchestra in music by Elgar, Brahms and Strauss on 29 November 2005 at The Assembly Rooms, Derby, UK. The orchestra gives regular concerts in Manchester, and during the first six months of 2006 will also be playing in Blackburn, Bradford, Carlisle, Hanley, Hull, Kendall, Llandudno, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield and Whitchurch.

German cellist Alban Gerhardt studied with Boris Pergamenschikow, Markus Nyikos and Franz Helmerson. He was born in Berlin in the 1970s to professional musicians, made his début with the Berlin Philharmonic, spent most of the 1990s in New York, but now lives again in Berlin. He has a busy schedule during the coming months, with concerts in Europe and the USA.

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