Review: The Hallé ***

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Leeds Town Hall

Sir Mark Elder’s view of Stravinsky’s ballet, The Rite of Spring, was very different to those increasingly savage performances from conductors seeking to maximise the work’s garish excitement.

With unhurried tempos to temper the barbaric aspects, he fashioned a very human story when the world believed in sacrifice. Whiplash timpani, searing trumpets and howling horns were here taken down quite a few decibels so that we could enjoy the delicate nuances in which the score abounds, the Hallé only opened to full power in the frenzied dance of the work’s concluding moments.

Central to the concert was Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, subtle orchestral shades forming the backdrop to a score originally written for a one-handed pianist.

The superb soloist was the Argentinean, Nelson Goerner, whose accuracy, agility, clarity and rapport with the orchestra created a quite superb account.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s seldom heard suite, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, which only seems to open its doors when performed with idiomatic sounds of Russian musicians, and Debussy’s Syrinx, seductively played by the orchestra’s principal flute, Katherine Baker, completed the programme.

Hear the Hallé tomorrow night at Bradford’s St George’s Hall, 7.30pm. 01274 432000.