Hallé Beamish Premiere, Cheltenham Music Festival, City
Thursday 06 July 2006
The opening concert, in which Brabbins conducted the Hallé, featured a new, 25-minute concerto by Beamish for an unlikely star, the accordion. If James Crabb, clutching his squeeze-box, looked a trifle out of place threading his way through the orchestra, he sometimes sounded it too. But that is part of the work's charm. Called The Singing, the three-movement work exploits the accordion's characteristics and colour. Inspired by that terrible blot on Scotland's history, the Highland Clearances, and the gap they left in the fabric of communities, The Singing is, at times, more a wailing, a gnashing of teeth and a sobbing lament. Beamish creates a vivid musical landscape, making use of Gaelic song and psalm, the insistent rhythms of the looms and the lamenting pibroch, as well as dance. Brilliantly resourceful in her use of "vocal" effects to portray emotional upheaval and frozen stillness with luminous colour, her evocative piece found a hugely sympathetic interpreter in Crabb, who relished the chance to explore his instrument's sonorities.
Mendelssohn's Hebrides overture has seldom sounded so inspired, while Mahler's Fourth Symphony, conducted with conviction and affection, drew eloquent strength of purpose from the Hallé, despite the Town Hall's acoustics.
But the Hallé, whose director Mark Elder has sounded off often enough about orchestra dress, could surely have shed its white tie and tails and dusted down its cream linen jackets on one of the hottest evenings of the summer.
Festival continues until 15 July (01242 227979) and on BBC Radio 3
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
- 2 Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 Germanwings crash: 'Andreas Lubitz planned to marry pregnant girlfriend', claims German report
- 5 Germanwings plane crash: Transcript reveals passengers 'screamed for over five minutes' before plane crashed into mountain
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans