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Review: York Guildhall Orchestra / Simon Wright; York Barbican
The Barbican may have reopened, but the new management is not doing York Guildhall Orchestra (YGO) any favours.
New rental arrangements have forced it to abandon its eve-of-concert rehearsal.
So an event lasting two and a half hours has to be prepared in a mere three-hour time-slot on the day.
All of which makes the outcome of Saturday’s concert – a Mozart piano concerto and Mahler’s huge Ninth Symphony – all the more heroic.
Sarah Beth Briggs was the sprightly soloist in Mozart’s K.488 in A.
She and Simon Wright were on exactly the same wavelength. Balance and timing between her and Mozart’s pared-down orchestra (no oboes, trumpets or timpani) was admirable.
Briggs danced through the opening with carefree clarity. The soulful Adagio was more cerebral, the melody mannered, as if needing interpretative help. Her lightning opening to the finale was breathtaking. But its rondo recurrences were not always so crystalline. Never mind. The attempt was exciting.
YGO’s Mahler odyssey continues to reach new heights, the orchestra noticeably maturing all the while. Yet another Wright miracle wrested a whole much greater than the sum of the orchestra’s parts from this Ninth.
The horns and trombones, both heavily taxed by Mahler, covered themselves in glory. The strings came into their own majestically in the superbly controlled last movement, a sheen illuminating their great unison.
It was all there: an eerie, anguished opening, a properly quirky scherzo, a caustic Rondo, a sublime, other-worldly Adagio.
A wonderful team effort.