Airedale Symphony Orchestra

King's Hall Ilkley

Sunday 2nd April 2017

The 1805 premiere of Beethoven's opera Leonore was a flop. Over the next decade Beethoven radically re-worked his opera. He renamed the work Fidelio but was not satisfied with any of his overtures (Leonore No's 1,2 & 3). The now familiar curtain raiser was written for the Viennese Premiere of Fidelio in 1814. Conductor John Anderson at the helm of his Airedale Symphony Orchestra took the Fidelio Overture's introductory flourish at a less frenetic speed than adopted by some conductors. His expansive tempi accentuated the dramatic ascending chords for full orchestra. There was an impressive tightness of ensemble in all sections.

The conductor then escorted violinist Sophie Cameron and cellist George Hoult centre stage to play the rich and earthy sounding Brahms Double Concerto in A minor. These perceptive young soloists rapidly established a rapport with the audience. Their sweet-toned ardour was matched by the intensity of the ASO's accompaniment. Infectious Gypsy rhythms were interpreted with a sure sense of the local idiom. The lyrical intensity of the beautiful Andante movement was especially memorable.

Completing the alliterative effect of the evening's composers, Anderson and the ASO devoted the second half to Anton Bruckner's Symphony No 3 in D minor. In the 'original' 1873 version, this is one of the longest of Bruckner's symphonies. It is more frequently performed - as on this occasion - in a truncated 'third' version from 1889 running for just under an hour. Anderson realised the grandeur and nobility of this symphony in an absorbing reading noteable for the clarity of instrumental detail. The final movement's playful Polka and an exultant coda with imposing brass chorales set the seal on a compelling performance.

On Sunday 2nd July at 7.30pm in the King's Hall, the ASO will perform Laura Rossi's new soundtrack at a commemorative showing of the classic silent film, Battle of the Somme.

Geoffrey Mogridge