The Halle Orchestra: Classical Dance Extravaganza – The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester – Review

By on June 25, 2016


I have only three words to describe this concert; wow, wow and wow!

With the brilliant, energetic, enigmatic and fabulous Stephen Bell introducing the pieces and waving his magic wand over the orchestra, it was the most delightful and fantastic evening.

Of course, when visiting The Halle, there is always a certain expectation of excellence, their reputation precedes them in that regard. Tonight though, they were gilt-edged!

With dance music from Tchaikovsky ballets through stand-alone orchestral gems to ballet music from operas and Musicals there really was something from everyone in this concert, with firm and well-known favourites and a couple of not-so-well known novelties thrown in for good measure.

The concert started with Tchaikovsky’s Waltz from Sleeping Beauty. I think I have heard this piece a thousand times already, but tonight I heard something new in it. The second part / harmony in the second violins was much clearer than ever this time round and made for a much fuller and deeper appreciation of the music. Wonderful. This was followed by simply the best rendition I have ever heard of Delibes’ Mazurka from Coppelia. Simply breathtaking!

Simply ever tune was a showstopper in its own right and I could go on like this all night. So I shall highlight only a couple more. Aaron Copland’s Hoedown from his ballet Rodeo was a wonderful surprise. I didn’t expect 20th Century American music to feature in this concert, but what a joy – complete with vocal ‘yee-haws’ too! Sibelius’s Valse Triste was hauntingly beautiful, and Saint-Saens’ Bacchanale from Samson And Delilah was equally emotive and evocative.

If I have to be picky (if you will allow me to be so just for one moment) then for me your interpretation of Shotstakovich’s Tahiti Trot just didn’t quite hit the mark and was not reminiscent of the era enough for me. I would have preferred it to have been much sharper and snappier. The tune was too blurred and slurred. I guess though that that’s just a personal preference.

But putting personal preferences aside, I take my hat off to each and every one of you and join in with a now distant standing ovation; kicking my legs high in the air, clapping along to your well-deserved encore of The Can-Can, and say once again, Mr. Bell and the wonderful Halle, thank you all so much for a fantastic evening! Here’s to many more!

Reviewer – Alastair MacDougall
on – 25/6/16

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