Review The Hallé, St David’s Hall by James Ellis 

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I’ve  not seen a classical concert so hectic at St David’s for years. The Hallé made the call and Cardiff answered with an impressive audience. Sat in Tier 5 I finally got to see the conductor’s face, that of an emboldened Dalia Stasevska. She turned and gave time to all the players, though I could hear her scoffing quite loudly doing dramatic moments. I love her though, she makes for a fascinating maestro to watch and seeing here near head on made for a highlight. 

Sibelius would being and end the night, Karelia Suite open with a typically Finnish, folksy fashion. It remained delightful, the last movement partially jolly within it’s ringtone nodding vibe. To be nearer the woodwind I could hear them much clearer and they ring out in a work like this if only for moments. One of the composer’s more accessible works, the symphony which follows might also be applied in that category.    

Sad to say Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano left me mostly unmoved. With Nicola Benedetti having to cancel, Hyeyoon Park was up for the violin solo, aside cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. This busy concerto has little going for it, though the three soloists made it more attractive then it really is. With so many soloists, little time is given to really get into the nitty gritty of a concerto proper. Some earth moments you’d expect from Beethoven are here and the usually rollicking passages were here. Hyeyoon and Sheku shared thematic elements due to their instrument being in the same family. Benjamin did some noodley piano from old Ludvig van, though little if anything took flight. Having said that seeing these three young talents on the Cardiff stage was quite touching. 

A surprise form Sweden and Andrea Tarrodi with her Paradisfåglar II (Birds of Paradise). With the first piece being just for string orchestra, here the second imagining is a lush and livid depiction of the jungle and the birds who frequent it. Inspired by Planet Earth from the BBC, Andrea was taken aback by the beauty of the Birds of Paradise, a subset of endangered birds who seem to have drag plumage and delightful dance moves. Wonderful glissandi evoke the shrill songs of these birds (though which specific bird of paradise is unclear), Fien orchestration sees a tam-tam struck very gently a few times and the string still shining in most of the piece. 

Dalia wasted no time and went straight into the next Sibelius: his Seventh Symphony. Surprisingly slight around 20 odd minutes, it lost momentum a few times and a musical storm did feel like it was coming. Dalia dazzled here, in the brief affair, the breeze and fire of the composer lived. The ending was full of promised and went off well, a finale which develops in the under current for such a brief piece. Brass and percussion here were devastating. I’ll have to listen to this again.

The short second half, left wanting more though still remained an evening full of bold and memorable music making. 

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