Xu in for Hallé at City Hall

Hong Xu ,  Chinese pianist who is soloist with the Halle at Sheffield City Hall, Jan 27 2012
Hong Xu , Chinese pianist who is soloist with the Halle at Sheffield City Hall, Jan 27 2012

HAVING a fortnight ago attracted the biggest audience so far this season, the CBSO and Andris Nelsons give way to the Hallé and its principal guest conductor Markus Stenz this Friday in the Sheffield International Concert Season at the City Hall.

Brahms is still there, though, with a more substantial work than the Haydn Variations, his pastoral-like Second Symphony, which he whipped off in 12 months after agonising over his First for 20 years.

A symphony by Mozart, who knocked them off in a week, is also on the programme, No 29 K201, described by Stanley Sadie as “a landmark” in the New Grove, and the composer’s best known and finest early symphony along with No 25.

In between the symphonies is the well known A minor piano concerto Brahms’ mentor Schumann finally managed to complete in 1845 after at least three previous attempts to write one.

The soloist is Hong Xu (pronounced ‘shoo’) a young Chinese pianist who appears to have exceptional talent – he appeared with the Hallé last season (not in Sheffield) and this is a swift invitation back.

Likewise, at the Wigmore Hall where he made an acclaimed recital debut last year leading to a further one this year for Xu who, having studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester before moving to New York’s equally prestigious Julliard School, is currently based in America.

A return to his home country is on the cards with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he is scheduled to make his Royal Festival Hall debut, when it tours China.