Concert Review: 24th February 2018

Beethoven: Overture Leonore no. 3

Brahms: Piano Concerto no. 1 in D minor

Sibelius: Symphony no. 3


Great Hall, Lancaster University, Lancaster

Conductor: Jonathan Lo

Soloist: Martin Roscoe

Leader: Julian Cann


The Great Hall at Lancaster University was filled to capacity on Saturday evening (24 February). Music lovers had come to hear Lancaster’s Haffner Orchestra, and one of the UK’s best-loved pianists - Martin Roscoe.

The concert opened with Beethoven’s Overture “Leonora No 3”; an overture of such excessive scale and drama that Beethoven rejected it in favour of a shorter and simpler version for his opera “Leonore”. Nevertheless, the music survived and, 200 years later, it justifies its reputation as a “stand alone” concert favourite. Jonny Lo, the Haffner’s conductor, energetically led the orchestra through the music’s rising tensions, clashing chords and torrents of notes.

Martin Roscoe then enthralled the audience with a memorable performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 1. Martin’s work is frequently heard on the radio and on concert platforms, including several performances at the BBC Proms. It was therefore a privilege to hear him play this monumental work by Brahms. The orchestra’s sensitive accompaniment never threatened to overwhelm the piano and the whole performance was a delight.

The concert ended with Sibelius’ Symphony No 3, a popular but complex 20th century work. Particular credit should go to the compelling rhythms and rich tones of the cello and bass players, the balance achieved by the wind and brass players, and the discipline of all the string players during the pizzicato sections. Once again, the Haffner Orchestra rose to the occasion, much to the audience’s pleasure.

Reviewed by Ruth MacKenzie