Review: The Halle

Monday 13 December 2021
reading time: min, words

I've got a tear in my eye, and a lump in my throat


The Halle is back! Live music is back! And I've got a tear in my eye, and a lump in my throat. It's been too long. The pandemic has taken so much from us. I feel emotional being back at the Theatre Royal. Being around people again. Listening to live music.

For this orchestra to be back playing live once again after such a lengthy enforced absence must be challenging, but they show none of it. Mentally and physically they are in tune with one another. They are playing as one, in complete harmony and I can see them smiling and they are clearly enjoying themselves. No doubt just as much as the appreciative audience.

The concert begins with the Bernstein Candide Overture. It's a bouncy and exciting opening offering, featuring many colourful instruments and different voices.

Next is Wynton Marsalis - Violin Concerto. It's like watching a film being scored. It's a 1940s murder mystery. A whodunnit, film noir. I feel the emotion of the situation. I close my eyes and I imagine San Francisco streets at night, steam raising from grates, the killer stalks his victim. The shrieking horns, thundering drums and deep double bass all create a sense of tension and dread.

The solo violinist Nicola Benedetti, is tall, elegant and tremendously technically adept. She's fast, but controlled, her playing is hauntingly beautiful. She is sublimely talented and has unbelievable stamina. Her technique is masterful and she plucks and strums the violin strings as well as using her bow. It's wonderful to watch and admire.

After the intermission it's Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition which is also excellent.

In the After Hours show Sarah Watts plays clarinet with Antony Clare on piano. The atmosphere is that of an after hours lock in. People are sitting on the stairs, hanging over the balcony or just milling around near the bar, casually enjoying the music. It's probably a couple of hundred people and it feels exclusive. It's an enjoyable way to end the evening.

Anyone watching and listening to the Halle will no doubt find it to be an enjoyable and moving experience, one not soon to be forgotten, and one that they will want to repeat often.

The Halle performed at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall on Friday 10 December

International Concert Season at the Royal Centre

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