Review: The Hallé, St George’s Hall, Bradford, Saturday 27th April 2024

THIS concert was originally scheduled to be conducted by the Italian maestro Daniele Rustioni. Last week however, Bradford Theatres was informed that maestro Rustioni who had conducted the two Bridgewater Hall performances of this programme, would not be conducting the Bradford concert.

A posting on the orchestra’s Facebook pages simply stated: “A big thank you to Jamie Phillips who is stepping in for Daniele Rustioni for our Bradford concert this weekend.” No reason given for this disappointing change and no apology to the Bradford audience now deprived of seeing one of the most exciting conductors of his generation in action.

The programme at least remained as advertised. Jamie Phillips who is a former associate conductor of the Hallé opened with Richard Wagner’s rousing Overture to The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. A piece played many times at these concerts. On Friday 10th April 1970, soloists Bernadette Greevy, Alberto Remedios, Ramon Remedios, Raimond Herincx, with the Hallé Orchestra and Hallé Choir, conducted by Maurice Handford, performed Act 3 of Wagner’s great comic opera to a near capacity audience in St George’s Hall. Those were the days I hear you cry.

German violinist Carolin Widman, resplendent in a sparkling silver and grey gown, then joined the orchestra to play Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Widman takes a brisk approach to this much loved concerto, refreshingly free of sentimentality.

Next up, a piece rarely programmed these days. Les préludes is probably the best known of Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems. Jamie Phillips and the Hallé gave a thrilling performance, steadily building up the final peroration to an exultant climax.

An impassioned reading of Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet ended the concert in tragic vein. The Saturday afternoon audience responded with warmth and enthusiasm. For this reviewer at least, disappointment caused by Rustioni's absence lingered for a while.