wed 17/07/2024

Lill, Orchestra of Opera North, González, Leeds Town Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Lill, Orchestra of Opera North, González, Leeds Town Hall

Lill, Orchestra of Opera North, González, Leeds Town Hall

A glowing Russian spread from a very fine northern orchestra

Gaudy Victorian splendour: Cuthbert Brodrick’s town hall in Leeds
Outstanding orchestral playing can be found outside London, Manchester and Birmingham. Unlike those cities, Leeds doesn’t have a purpose-built modern concert hall suitable for large-scale concerts, making do with the gaudy Victorian splendour of Cuthbert Brodrick’s town hall. Acoustically it’s not perfect, but the striking canopy hanging precariously over the concert platform has improved matters. Leeds does have a full-time orchestra; formerly known as the English Northern Philharmonia, the Orchestra of Opera North have a year-round joint role in the opera house and concert hall, giving regular concerts in Leeds and in the surrounding area.
Outstanding orchestral playing can be found outside London, Manchester and Birmingham. Unlike those cities, Leeds doesn’t have a purpose-built modern concert hall suitable for large-scale concerts, making do with the gaudy Victorian splendour of Cuthbert Brodrick’s town hall. Acoustically it’s not perfect, but the striking canopy hanging precariously over the concert platform has improved matters. Leeds does have a full-time orchestra; formerly known as the English Northern Philharmonia, the Orchestra of Opera North have a year-round joint role in the opera house and concert hall, giving regular concerts in Leeds and in the surrounding area.
A perfect blend of mechanistic Modernism and fairy-tale wonder, Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto rarely fails to entertain. After a carefully sculpted introduction, with a naïve clarinet theme unfolding into a rapturous string tutti, John Lill initially sounded just a bit too impatient and bluff - effective at conveying the music’s heft and punch but less willing to indulge the concerto’s softer side. Then we were surprised by a swaggering introduction to the second subject, followed by a nicely incisive declaration on winds and castanets. Lill relaxed nicely in the movement’s quietly shimmering centre, aided by the young Spanish conductor Pablo González’s fluid direction.

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