13 February 2015
Reviewed by Norman Totton
St George’s Hall is situated in Bradford city centre and getting to it is easy. If you are driving, Bradford Theatres have an exclusive offer with NCP Hall Ings (BD1 5SD) or NCP Southgate (BD1 2AP). Park at either site and only pay £3.80 for 4 hours (parking voucher needed but is subject to availability – ask at the ticket office on arrival).
The Academic Symphony of the St Petersburg Philharmonia, better known in the UK as The St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, was conducted by the renowned Vladimir Altschuler. Altschuker joined the orchestra in 1969 as a viola player and after studying conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory, eventually in 1994 became conductor of the orchestra, a post he has held ever since.
The night’s performance was in three parts, the first was Sibelius’s Karelia Suite Op 11, the second and third were Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat minor, Op 23 and his Symphony No 6 in B minor Pathetique, Op 74.
The first movement of the Karelia Suite is a piece of music that we probably all know but would be hard pressed to name. (YouTube it, you’ll see what I mean!). The first soft notes leading us into a jaunty military theme driven by the horn section, gives way to a more sombre movement and the final movement which describes a call to arms provides a stirring conclusion. This suite is one of Sibelius’s most popular pieces of music.
Noriko Ogawa was the soloist for the piano concerto and she is extraordinarily dextrous (I’m convinced she had four hands). The first movement opens with a stirring piece dominated by the horn players who are then joined by the piano and string section. The pianist is at full stretch throughout the piece but Ms Ogawa made it all look easy! The second movement begins with a gentle flute solo with a soft elaboration by other instruments; the piano provides a continuous light accompaniment throughout. The third movement is a much more rousing affair with the piano, strings and the rest of the orchestra playing different tunes which are then blended and combined to bring the concerto to a rousing finale.
The final offering of the night was Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6 and was altogether a much dourer piece of music. While one can appreciate the complexities of the piece it is a piece of music that I can take or leave. The reaction to premiere of this symphony which was on 16th October 1893 was somewhat negative. Tchaikovsky was extremely disappointed and eight days after the first performance he was dead. It is thought he died of cholera or suicide but the circumstances of his death still remain unclear.
All-in-all, the concert was extremely enjoyable and I would not hesitate to recommend that you see the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra for yourself to see why I am awarding 5 out of 5 for the performance and the same for the very helpful staff at St George’s Hall.
For other show at St George’s Hall in Bradford visit:
St George’s Hall. Bridge St, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1JT | 01274 432000