Review: The Hallè,Leeds Town Hall,Saturday 24th February 2018

IT was good to hear Mendelssohn's lesser known seascape - the Overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage - played with such élan by the Hallè under the baton of American conductor Karina Canellakis. The Calm Sea had a beautifully translucent and spacious quality; In the Prosperous Voyage, colours were much brighter and the dynamic range extremely wide. Piquant woodwind and shining brass enriched the Hallè's pellucid performance of this lovely work.

Beethoven's Symphony No 4 in B Flat is one the most engaging of the nine he composed. Following the brooding introduction, the release of energy in the succeeding allegro was like the valve of a pressure cooker being opened. Dark hued strings and brass contributed to the enigmatic quality of the adagio and a soufle-like scherzo led into the unstoppable momentum of the finale.

Sunwook Kim's performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor with Mark Elder and the Hallè earned him First Prize at the 2006 Leeds International Piano Competition. The South Korean pianist subsequently recorded both Brahms concerti with the orchestra under Elder's baton. Kim's perceived chemistry with the Hallè was again apparent in his magisterial performance of the D minor Concerto conducted by Karina Canellakis. The fluidity of Kim's technique, combined with an intensity of expression and myriad colouring of notes, makes this epic concerto an unforgettable experience. The Hallè's whispering strings matched Kim's keyboard poetry in the song-like adagio. Not surprisingly, the brilliance of the barnstorming finale unleashed a torrent of cheers, bravos and foot stamping.

Geoffrey Mogridge