• Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra
  • June 25, 2017

Review: Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra’s moving tribute to victims of the Manchester bombing

5-star summer strings concert brings season to memorable and moving end

The Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra

Huddersfield Parish Church

June 24

Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra’s ‘Summer Strings’ concert included a moving tribute to the victims of the Manchester bombings.

Soloist Stephanie Eustis dedicated her performance to the children whose lives have been tragically changed, or ended, by the Manchester bombing at the Ariana Grande concert which claimed 22 lives and left 119 injured with 23 critically hurt.

At the concert two highly-regarded Phil. musicians, Theresa Teague and Frank Mathison, were awarded honorary life membership of the society.

Opening the programme was the blisteringly-hot brass section which shook the church’s rafters in Shostakovich’s Festive Overture (1954) with electrifying fanfares and beefy lower brass melodies.

A stunning impact was heightened by the players’ elevated stage positions.

Not unnoticed was woodwind wizardry during speedy scalic passages and some ultra-dynamic percussion playing.

Having previously heard the two soloists, Emily Sharratt and Stephanie Eustis, play admirably as orchestral leader and principal cellist respectively, I was looking forward to their solos.

Saint-Saëns 1st Cello Concerto in A minor (1872) was dramatic and revealed a host of technical challenges.

This one-movement Romantic masterpiece was enlivened by Stephanie as she interpreted each of the three identifiable sections with an intense musicianship. She dedicated her moving performance to the children whose lives have been tragically changed, or ended, by the Manchester bombing.

The tempestuous twists and turns of the outer sections were brilliantly handled yet it was the sonorous and soul-searching sound that Stephanie produced in the slower, central section that stood out. There was fabulous feather-light orchestral accompaniment here too.

An audience member, who hadn’t previously heard this piece, remarked that “it’s nice to be surprised.” We were won over.

Haydn’s 4th Violin Concerto in G major starred Emily. It demands the player to produce absolute clarity in exposed classical phrases within a traditional three movement ‘fast-slow-fast’ format. And Emily did just that … and more.

Accomplished playing throughout and not least in her well-prepared and self-assured cadenzas. First class.

Her exquisite sound blossomed in the second movement with stylish classical embellishments and beautiful phrasing.

The orchestra duly ‘played down’ and maintained a mostly tidy ensemble.

Utter respect to amateur performers Emily and Stephanie for dedicating hours of spare time to prepare for the concert while holding down demanding full-time teaching jobs.

Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1869) had it all and conductor Robert Guy did not let this well-known classic ‘run itself’.

We were swept from the prophetic thoughts of Friar Laurence to the agitation of the warring families and ultimately to the love theme. Robert made the piece his own and controlled every musical heartbeat. Masterful.

Woodwind shone in the opening chorale and the strings produced a real depth of tone throughout steered by excellent orchestral leader Kirsty Chappell.

The brass players certainly packed a punch!

“Ten out of ten” I heard someone say on the way out. Agreed. This was a fabulous end to the orchestra’s season.

The next concert will be on November 11 and see www.huddersfield-phil.org.uk for more information.


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