REVIEW: Halle Orchestra open King’s Lynn Festival

The Halle Orchestra Picture supplied by King's Lynn Festival

The Halle Orchestra Picture supplied by King's Lynn Festival - Credit: Archant

The fabulous fortnight that is Festival Too finished on a high on Saturday night, and the 68th King's Lynn Festival began on Sunday evening with the very welcome return of the Halle Orchestra.

The opening concert of the Festival always has a sense of excitement and expectation, and this world famous orchestra, which has strong ties to King's Lynn, undoubtedly didn't fail to live up to it.

Under the baton of Stephen Bell, who at times was an entertainment in himself the orchestra served up a programme of popular classics to get everyone in the mood for the huge variety of events on offer over the next fortnight.

In a concert of two halves, the first half American and second English, the orchestra kicked off with Leonard Bernstein's On the Town - Three Dance Episodes: jaunty, fun and so very American. The inclusion of nearly all the instruments showed off the abilities of the orchestra, with Mr Bell having a great time in front of them.

Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid Suite followed, but the piece de resistance of the whole evening was Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, with the young German Joseph Moog at the piano.

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Beginning with the well known clarinet glissando, Joseph took over on the keys with extraordinary skill, maturity and dexterity, but with a lightness of touch where needed.

Those in the audience who could see his hands were mesmerised by the speed and versatility of his playing. He then gave an encore of his own arrangement of Gershwin's 'S Wonderful.

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Vaughan Williams' Norfolk Rhapsody No 1 featured tunes that the composer collected from the people of King's Lynn, so was a popular choice, and the evening was rounded off with William Walton's beautiful Suite from the film Henry V. From the gentle strings to the haunting French folksong Bailero, played on the cor anglais, the piece brought to an end the perfect start to the festival.

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