Airedale Symphony Orchestra. King’s Hall, Ilkley. Sunday, April 7, 2019

The ASO’s ambitious programme contained significant works from both the 19th and 20th Centuries. Conductor John Anderson’s dramatically paced performance of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture skilfully managed the interwoven themes leading to the exultant climax.

The ostentatious drum roll and anguished orchestral tutti which opens Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor sets the mood for this immense, dark-hued work. This Concerto feels more like a symphony in which orchestra and solo piano often seem at odds.

John Anderson’s effective balance of textures within the orchestra allowed the sensitive colouring of pianist William Green to shine through, especially in the intensely beautiful Adagio. William’s brilliant cascades of notes in the huge opening movement and the Rondo finale were never swamped by the symphonic weight of the orchestra.

Aaron Copland originally scored Appalachian Spring for a chamber orchestra of 13 players. Following the 1944 premiere, he arranged the music for full symphony orchestra. The ASO’s performance captured the piquant harmonies, the joy and repose of this engaging score.

Ottorino Respighi’s symphonic poem The Pines of Rome was premiered on December 14, 1924 at Rome’s Augusteo Theatre. The lofty Victorian splendour of Leeds Town Hall was the setting for the second performance, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates, at the 1925 Leeds Triennial Musical Festival. The Pines of Rome requires vast forces including harp, piano, celesta, off-stage brass bands - and (ideally) a grand concert organ with a 32-foot pedal stop. But all is not noise and bombast, Respighi creates an abundance of warm Mediterranean softness and colour. The Pines of the Janiculum features a gramophone recording of a nightingale sweetly singing to the pianissimo live shimmering orchestral backdrop of muted, trilling violins. John Anderson’s balance of the change of atmosphere to the sinister rumblings of Roman armies built to the triumphal climax - bolstered by extra brass sections in the King's Hall boxes. The audience loved it.

Geoffrey Mogridge