Ninety years after the Halle performed the world premiere of Elgar’s first symphony, this performance was great.
The symphony is full of lyrical nostalgia yet, as Elgar said, it expresses “massive hope for the future”. It is clearly a favourite with the Halle and their conductor, Sir Mark Elder, who chose to present this major work of the evening first, as Elgar would have done.
Huw Watkins’ Symphony was certainly a contrast to the Elgar. It was composed this year and had received its world premiere the previous evening. It is a beautifully crafted work and full of surprises. The audience appreciated it and it was good to be able to applaud the composer as well as the orchestra. He took a bow from his seat in the circle.
The evening ended with Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” with a modern text by Tom Redmond. Britten’s rousing tribute to Purcell is always a joy to hear, even for those no longer young. The evening was truly a feast of English music.