Conductor: Alpesh Chauhan
Reviewer: Laura Stimpson
From the Old World to the New is the opening concert of Kirklees and Opera North’s 2017/18 concert season and, wow, what an opening concert. Glinka, Borodin and Dvorak are the composers on show tonight, a popular choice and a perfect trio to whet the audiences’ appetite for what to expect from future concerts.
The orchestra is in fine form under the baton of the energetic Alpesh Chauhan, who is a pleasure to watch throughout. The Orchestra begins with Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila overture which provides a rousing opening. A very energetic piece with great attention to detail and dynamic contrast.
Borodin takes centre stage for the rest of the first half. The Steppes of Central Asia provides a contrast to the first piece and is a great chance to showcase each section of the orchestra and many individual talents within the ensemble. The evocative opening transports the audience to the desert, where two melodies can be heard, representing Russian and Asian troops. The melodies combine after being passed around different instrumentalists in the orchestra, really showcasing the skill of ensemble playing. This truly is a beautiful piece and a highlight of the concert.
To end the first half, the orchestra performs Borodin’s Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances, from the opera Prince Igor. Rich harmonies beautifully support the storytelling capabilities of the composer. The well-known, wistful melody of Prince Igor is the subject of the second movement and is beautifully presented by cor anglais with the support of harp. This is followed by upbeat melodies by woodwind played stylishly and building to include the great might of the full orchestra, a real treat and a wonderful full sound.
The second half once again treats the audience to more wonderful cor anglais playing with Dvorak’s most popular and recognisable work, Symphony No 9 in E major: From the New World. The orchestra delivers this with the finesse seen throughout the first half, bringing out the rhythm of Dvorak’s spiritual inspired melodies. A piece of great contrast which once again shows the skill of this talented orchestra.
A wonderful programme presented by fine musicians.
Reviewed on 28 September 2017 | Image: Contributed