European Union Chamber Orchestra with Tasmin Little, Leeds Town Hall, Saturday 27th April 2019

THE 20 musicians of the European Union Chamber Orchestra were directed from the leader’s desk by Hans-Peter Hoffman. They play standing up and this alters the ambience of their concerts to a remarkable degree. Liberated from a formal seating layout, the musicians actually look happier; they have space for a more demonstrative and emotional style of playing. The sight of the violins and viola players raising their bows in total unanimity, high above their heads, at the end of a movement creates a small frisson of excitement.

Peter Warlock’s lively Capriol Suite had a certain buoyancy and litheness; the warm acoustic imparted a luxuriant bloom to the 16 strings. Barber’s famous Adagio for strings, in complete contrast, was vibrato-free. The arid sounding textures seemed highly appropriate for this solemnly intense music.

The concert was, in any case, tinged with sadness since it was billed as violin soloist Tasmin Little’s last-ever Leeds performance. Ms Little who is only 53, recently announced her intention to call time on a glittering performing career in order to embark on new projects.

So Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 4 in D made for a delightful farewell. This youthful work was played by Ms Little with her customary smiling demeanour and lively interaction with the EUCO strings, plus two each of oboes and flutes.

A memorable concert ended with Haydn’s richly inventive Symphony No 44 in E minor, dubbed the Trauer (Mourning) Symphony, because Haydn wanted the movingly simple Adagio movement to be played at his funeral. Hans-Peter Hoffman led an authentic sounding performance of absolute precision. The Presto finale positively sparkled with rhythmic vitality.

Geoffrey Mogridge