Distinctly Spanish theme
Halle Orchestra Sheffield City Hall
The two main items may have been written in Vienna, but this programme had a distinctly Spanish feel to it.
That was principally down to the astonishing performance of the Halle's young, slender, almost boyish principal clarinet player Sergio Castello Lopez, who was the soloist in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto.
Scarcely in his mid-twenties, he gave the most enthralling interpretation of this notoriously difficult work I have heard since the late, great Jack Brymer in Chesterfield many years ago.
He breezed nonchalantly through the piece without seeming to pause for breath, sprightly in the fast outer movements, sonorous in the deep passages, and pin-dropping quiet in the delicate pianissimo moments.
The Spanish theme had already been introduced in Manuel de Falla's El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician), the most familiar section of which is the Ritual Fire Dance which crops up about half-way through.
This elicited lengthy applause, perhaps because the audience thought the piece had ended, but there was a lot more to come, and although the Halle, under Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, acquitted themselves well, it perhaps outstayed its welcome.
Not so Beethoven's 7th Symphony, which brought proceedings to a close. It was written at the height of the Napoleonic wars, referenced by many warlike noises from the timpanist, but is best remembered for some sprightly dances in which the wind section excelled, and some lively and delicate ensemble work in the strings. It showed the Halle at its best