After a scintillating start to the season with Viennese Whirl we are treated to a visit by the renowned Hallé. Wagner’s Faust Overture is a single-movement overture from a planned opera he never completed (though there is speculation on this). The Hallé cope with its complexity and vitality superbly under the masterful baton of Lothar Koenigs. It is at times gentle, at others tempestuous and is a tremendous showcase for the orchestra to begin the show.
Considered second only to Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto Weber’s concerto for bassoon allows the instrument to shine in all its diversity. Gretha Tuls’ performance is like a masterclass revealing her natural talent and incredible dexterity. The work demands a lot of the soloist revealing the depth of timbre and tone and her scaling is absolutely magnificent. As a first-timer to a bassoon-led piece this brought a smile to my face and wonderment in my mind.
Brahms’ Symphony No 1 has been compared to Beethoven’s 9th and I think this is fair in the sense of both its epic form and jubilant quality. The Hallé’s strings really come into their own with the sounds swirling around Leeds Town Hall like magic faeries. The piece has real depth and integrity and allows some quiet moments for contemplation as well as more bombastic and vibrant sections. This brings to a close a brilliant Hallé performance, proving them once more one of the north’s strongest orchestras and their selection of these three classics is impeccable. Bravo!