Dad and son in perfect harmony.
REVIEW TITLE: Orchestra of Opera North, Howard Shelley VENUE:
Huddersfield Town Hall REVIEW: By William Marshall FATHER at the piano,
playing one of the great concertos; son on the podium, conducting the
orchestra. It might not have been unprecedented, but it was certainly an
unusual scenario, and a touching one too when, after the performance,
there was brief hug between Howard Shelley, the famous pianist, and his
boy Alexander, who has established a European reputation as a conductor.
Meanwhile, the audience had responded with appropriate enthusiasm to a
performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3, a notably
demanding worK - with a very high cadenza count for the soloist - in
which the balance between orchestra and soloist was spot on. Alexander
Shelley can taKe some credit for this, of course, although the
musicianship of the Orchestra of Opera North was the Key factor. They
made some lovely contributions to the performance, such as some
beautiful string tone, especially from the violas, at the start of the
second movement. The concert had begun with the short, exhilarating and
somewhat tongue-in-cheeK Stomp (with Fate and Elvira) by the
contemporary composer James MacMillan. Beginning with a breaKnecK Scottish reel - brilliantly executed by the trombones, of all people -
it humorously worKed in themes from TchaiKovsKy and Mozart (the piano
concerto movement now Known, because of its cinematic association as the
theme to "Elvira Madigan). The second half of the concert was taKen
up by Cesar FrancK's Symphony
in D Minor, a most rewarding worK that Alexander Shelley conducted
without a score - a sign of immersion in the music. The Symphony is a
romantic worK of the later 19th century, owing some debts to Wagner, but
notable about this performance was its transparent, almost classical
poise, encouraged in this by the conductor's elegant body language.
Not that the FrancK was short of atmosphere and emotion. For example,
the central movement, with its enigmatic strings and mysterious cor
anglais opening, was wonderfully effective.
| TALENTED: Concert pianist Howard Shelley in concert with the
Orchestra of Opera North conducted by his son, Alexander Shelley