Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Monday 14 November 2011
Review by William Marshall of
Concert in Huddersfield Town Hall on Saturday 12 November 2011
Extravagant folk music-infected compositions by Khachaturian and Borodin began and ended this concert and between them was the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major.
So this was not a concert that could easily be labelled with one of the thematic umbrella titles that orchestras like to devise whenever possible. On the other hand, the music of Brahms – for all its poise and classicism – often has traces of popular music and gipsy fiddling and these can be detected in the concerto.
Not that the young Martyn Jackson is a player who is given to wild extroversion. He is a massively talented violinist with an exquisite tone, displayed to especially beautiful effect – along with immaculate technique and tuning – in the lengthy solo cadenza in the first movement of the concerto. But he is a relatively introverted, self-contained player without the big, burnished tone of some soloists. Therefore, there were some imbalances between the orchestra and the solo violin. Conductor Nicholas Smith could have backed off the Huddersfield Philharmonic on occasions so that the solo part emerged with more clarity.
That said, the orchestra executed its parts well and there was a high standard of playing too in the Masquerade Suite by Khachaturian – which opens and closes with real swagger – and in the orchestral workout of Borodin’s Symphony No 2. This presents almost all sections with a range of technical challenges, most of them overcome with panache with a brief sag in the tuning during the slow movement being the only disconcerting moment of a demanding concert which showed that the Phil is on good form.
The concert had begun with an affecting performance of Sibeluis’s Valse Triste played as a memorial to the orchestra’s former leader, Mary Rafferty, who died in July. Held in great affection, she was widely regarded as one of the most inspirational and generous figures on the Huddersfield music scene and she would surely have been delighted by the cascade of sonorous string tone which the Phil produced in her memory.
(See our musicians page for a full tribute to Mary Rafferty as published in the concert programme for this concert.)