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A Superb Team

Haydn, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky
from Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra,


One month after the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder played Haydn's Symphony No 48 and Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony in Derby I knew what to expect (Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK, 9 April 2009), but it was all just as thrilling the second time round. The Haydn was irresistibly spirited, with an enthralling adagio, and a minuet that was a real dance, not just a stylised version of one.

In the Mendelssohn it was the careful balance that particularly struck me on this occasion, with all sorts of inner detail emerging that had scarcely registered on previous occasions. The scherzo was fresh and breezy, with the perky solo clarinet at the start deserving particular mention. The third movement was expressive without a trace of sentimentality. And, as before, Elder's brisk, exciting tempo for the finale's coda stood the conventional view of it as one big anticlimax completely on its head.

The concert began with a lithe, fiery account of Beethoven's Egmont Overture, though it must be conceded that ensemble was not always tight here.

The performance of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations that followed was marked by soloist Natalie Clein's immaculate technique and eloquent phrasing, and the orchestral contribution included some wonderfully delicate woodwind playing. The question remains, though -- why does anyone still want to give credibility to Fitzenhagen's crude mangling of Tchaikovsky's score when the original is easily available?

Niggles apart, though, here was another demonstration of just what a superb team Elder and the Hallé Orchestra have become.

Copyright © 14 April 2009 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK



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