The Hallé Christmas Concert
The Hallé orchestra light up the festive season with an exhilarating array of Christmas favourites.
It should be like this all year round. Almost at once the monumental stresses and strains that come with being a professional orchestral musician evaporate when the words ‘Christmas’ are put at the front of a concert program. This was evident from the off on Tuesday night as the Hallé performed with freedom and style.
Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is a German favorite at Christmas time and the overture was a wonderful choice to open the concert. The performance was sentimental and sweet throughout, without bordering on the saccharine.
The same can be said for Tchaikovsky’s celebrated ballet ‘The Nutcracker’, a selection of which was delivered beautifully by the orchestra.
Elin Thomas was the soloist for the vocal selections in the night’s proceedings; most likely still thriving off the adrenaline high from performing at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic games in the summer.
The interpretation of ‘Rejoice’ from Handel’s Messiah was imperturbable throughout, though one wonders quite how successful this piece works with such a large symphony orchestra.
Thomas was fun and engaging throughout, encouraging the audience to join in with such cherished traditions as ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘O holy Night,’ which according to Classic FM is the nation’s favourite Christmas carol (which The Tab doesn’t buy, everyone knows Hark the Herald is the best). An interactive arrangement of ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ was quirky and interesting as well.
Nifty and graceful renditions of ‘Troika’ by Prokofiev, ‘Sleight Ride’ by Anderson and selections from Speilberg’s E.T. by John Williams cemented the sense of enthusiasm and fun which marked the occasion. The audience was definitely having an enjoyable experience.
A family friendly occasion then? Not entirely, the conductor was kind enough to provide a joke fit for any Christmas cracker: ‘Why does Father Christmas always smile? Because he knows where all the bad girls are!’ Who says these things are only for kids!?