Cool, stirring notes of the freezing northern regions

Halifax Symphony Orchestra
Halifax Symphony Orchestra
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Baltic Breeze Concert, Halifax Symphony Orchestra

 Halifax Minster

Four eloquent pieces by different composers under the heading of Baltic Breeze, suggested the cool, yet stirring spirit of these northern regions.

The first, Lemminkainen’s Return by Sibelius, based on a legendary Finnish poem, ‘Kalevala’, traces the history of a people from creation to Christianity.

From a rumbling, urgent beginning, the piece gathers the momentum of a tortuous journey with its rhythms and occasionally conflicting instrumental sounds. Richly stringed, it employs the whole orchestra in a race to an ending of increasing optimism.

Borodin’s Polovstian Dances, from his unfinished opera Prince Igor, were performed here as a concert piece. The orchestra provided us with a profound insight into their rich musicality, making it difficult for us to remember that Borodin was a part-time composer, secondary to his occupation as a chemist and physician.

Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A Minor introduced us to a young soloist, Jessica Coleman, in an outstanding virtuoso performance of this technically challenging Concerto. Her relaxed and easy style confidently accomplished the demanding 2nd movement with great panache, with excellent ensemble work from the Orchestra under conductor, Nicholas Simpson and leader, Barbara Slade.

Our final treat was Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony with its amazing panoply of styles, from a dark, funereal beginning to the great orchestral march in the final movement.

The disturbingly affecting horn solo, played by Sarah Birchall, with its stunning sound and craft, left us with a distinctive ear-worm as we headed home.

Derek Greenwood