Review: Ilkley Philharmonic Orchestra, All Saints Church, Ilkley, Sunday, March 3, 2024

Rossini’s Overture to the Barber of Seville, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D and the famous ‘Clock’ Symphony of Josef Haydn formed a delectable programme for Ilkley Philharmonic’s winter concert.

The arrival on Ilkley’s thriving musical scene of John Anderson’s second new orchestra is restoring repertoire generally passed over by the larger symphonic ensembles. The programming of a Haydn symphony is a case in point, on which more later.

Gioachino Rossini’s bustling curtain raiser does not contain a single theme from his most famous opera. Rather the piece is a showcase for this composer’s trademark orchestral crescendo. Ilkley Philharmonic played with verve and the wind sections in particular covered themselves with glory.

Violinist Andy Long who is an associate leader of the Orchestra of Opera North, made his entrance to play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. This is one of the fastest and most technically demanding of romantic concertos, for both soloist and orchestra. Leopold Auer, to whom Tchaikovsky dedicated the work, disputed that he had described it as ‘unplayable’.

Andy’s seemingly relaxed demeanour belied his virtuosity and lyricism as he scaled the stratospheric heights of this much loved concerto. John Anderson and his orchestra were admirably responsive partners. A pity that the irritating ring tone of a mobile phone twice broke the spell cast by Andy’s 1st movement solo cadenza.

Haydn’s symphonies are gloriously optimistic. No 101 in D is one of the second group of his six London symphonies. The ‘Clock’ moniker is derived from an incessant tick-tock beat in the 2nd movement. John Anderson and the Ilkley Philharmonic gave a stylish performance, like a blast of fresh air through this ancient church. An appreciative audience rose to its feet.

Ilkley Philharmonic Orchestra’s next concert at All Saints, Ilkley, is on Sunday 9th June at 7.30pm.