Review of Buxton Fringe Concert 2014

This has to be one of the best concerts that HPO have given on the Fringe in recent years. Their assured playing and conductor Andrew Hodkinson’s confident direction ensured a thrilling experience.

The concert opened with Debussy’s l’apres-midi d’un Faune which reminded us how good the HPO woodwinds are. This quite short , but highly impressionistic work, was followed by Schumann’s ‘cello concerto with the wonderfully talented Miriam Brown as soloist. Still at the Northern College Miriam is rapidly acquiring a fine reputation.

The concerto was composed in 1850, which saw the start of Schumann’s decline into insanity. But there is only a hint of that in the generally lyrical music. The excellent programme notes suggested that the work is “brooding and serious” but in this performance, particularly the extended solo in the second movement accompanied by the principal ‘cello, Mary Dainton, the total effect was enchanting.

The concert concluded with Mahler’s fourth symphony. This is another demanding work for the woodwinds and the HPO woodwinds were outstanding with very carefully judged dynamics. The high spot was the fourth movement with Jane McNeill singing the beautiful song “The Heavenly Life”, music to which Jane’s lovely voice seems particularly suited.

A large audience greeted both soloists with well-deserved acclamation.

Peter Low