Review: Hallé Viennese Concert ****

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Bradford, St George’s Hall

Johann Strauss the elder died in 1849 after contracting pneumonia in Wakefield. A pity he could not have gone to Bradford in 2012, where the music of his sons and their contemporaries was given a vibrant outing in the Hallé’s New Year Viennese matinée.

Conductor Wyn Davies knows musicals and operetta inside out, and chose some less obvious, and consequently more satisfying, repertoire. It was good to hear Josef Strauss, the best composer among the Strauss brothers. His Frauenherz, Polka-Mazurka was a sensitive little piece given a touching performance under Davies, who emphasised the disturbingly anxious nature of the inner parts in Josef’s Transactions Waltz.

It was also good to hear two dark and meaty arias from Lehar’s rarely-heard opera Friederike, sung with passion by Lesley Garrett. In her other numbers the Doncaster Diva charmed us with her vivacity. In describing Mozart’s Zerlina in Don Giovanni as a “little tinker” she also described her own captivating soubrette approach.

Wyn Davies and the Hallé took their cue from her in the big set piece waltzes such as Roses from the South, which were played light and brash – a delightful change to the usual heavy and sentimental.

Hear the Hallé tomorrow night at Leeds Town Hall, 7.30pm. 0113 224 3801.