Review: Haffner Orchestra at Ashton Hall

Gareth Small.
Gareth Small.

The Haffner Orchestra performed three contrasting works in their recent concert at the Ashton Hall.

Shostakovich’s Suite for a Variety Orchestra began the evening with six short items which fully displayed the talents of the different sections of the orchestra in the wider selection of instruments not always heard in standard classical performances.

This was followed by a one movement trumpet concerto by the Armenian composer Arutunian.

The work displayed a variety of musical styles: soulful melodies, quirky harmonies and rhythms of Armenian folk origin as well as occasional hints of jazz.

The trumpet soloist, Gareth Small, made light work of the sometimes tricky passages as well as producing a sweet legato in the muted soulful sections, ably accompanied by the lower strings of the orchestra.

Conductor Bob Chasey ensured the orchestra accompanied the soloist observing his differing nuances of tempo and style exactly, to produce a thoroughly convincing and enjoyable performance of a tuneful but taxing work.

After the interval, Brahms 4th Symphony changed the mood and enabled the conductor and orchestra to demonstrate a much deeper and meaningful musical experience where nobility and sadness underpins the majority of the work.

This is Brahms the soulful where minor keys rule, from the rather sombre opening entrance of the strings to the final tragic chords which end the work.

The conductor coaxed fine sounds and unanimity from the whole orchestra to produce a convincing and memorable performance.

Well done Haffner!

Review by R Wallace