Productive evening  

classical

london mozart players, sheffield city hall

Virtuoso pianist and composer of operas, symphonies and concertos, Mozart crammed so much into his musical life even though he died before he was 35.

And Howard Shelley, the man conducting the players named after him, seemed determined to emulate both Mozart's productivity and virtuosity during one evening's visit to Sheffield.

In just three hours he gave a pre-concert talk, conducted the orchestra, performed the solo part in a piano concerto (while also conducting  from the keyboard), turned the pages of his electronic score with his foot and even introduced us to a composer most of us had never heard of before.

The evening's centrepiece was  Mozart's Piano Concerto No 21, more commonly known as Elvira Madigan since its use  in the film of the same name. Less familiar is Mozart's Symphony No 34, the last he composed in his home town of Salzburg before moving to Vienna.

Here the orchestra came into their own with some delicate interplay in the string section and lively interjections from the string players.

The evening began with one of the London symphonies, No 95, by the man Mozart longed to emulate, Joseph Haydn.

The band seemed to be getting into their stride here with a performance enlivened by a nicely-handled cello solo.

The newcomer was Spanish-based, French-taught Italian composer Joaquin Turina, whose Prayer of the Bullfighter captured the colours and rhythms of Spain without, unlike its composer, going anywhere in particular.

                                   Philip Andrews