The Hallé begin celebrations for Music Director Sir Mark Elder’s 70th birthday with a trio of Elgar concerts, Thursday 9–Sunday 12 March
The three-concert festival opens on Thursday 9 March with a performance of Elgar’s Symphony No.1, a piece the Hallé gave the world premiere of in 1908 under Hans Richter. This will be followed by Gerard McBurney’s ‘Beyond the Score’ presentation exploring the Enigma Variations on Saturday 11 March. With the Hallé on stage throughout, singers, actors – including Samuel West portraying Elgar - and film extracts will tell the story of Elgar’s iconic work, followed by a complete performance. The festival concludes on Sunday 12 March with a performance of The Dream of Gerontius. Soloists Iain Paterson and David Butt Philip return following their appearances in Das Rheingold, whilst Sasha Cooke will portray the Angel.
Described by The Times as ‘the perfect Elgarian’, Sir Mark Elder is widely considered one of the finest interpreters of the composer’s music. Speaking of the concerts, he commented; “A festival such as this offers the opportunity to include music such as the three shorter works in the first concert. Relatively recent discoveries for me, each one represents in its own way top-drawer Elgar, and each of them is fascinating”.
“I have wanted, ever since I conducted the first ‘Beyond the Score’ in Chicago over ten years ago, to bring Gerard McBurney’s inspired explorations into familiar and less-familiar works to Manchester” he continued. As we found last season with [Dvořák] New World Symphony, this original way of delving behind a masterpiece has astonished many listeners who are confident in their knowledge and love of familiar pieces of music.”
The Hallé and Sir Mark Elder have received much critical acclaim for their performances and recordings of Elgar’s music. Of their appearance at the BBC Proms in 2015, The Daily Telegraph praised their performance of Symphony No.2 ‘in which the full quality of the Hallé’s playing under Elder was evident right from the work’s sweeping opening statement.’ Their revered recording of The Dream of Gerontius with Alice Coote and Bryn Terfel won the Gramophone Award for Choral Recording in 2009. It was applauded by The Sunday Times also, who commented ‘Elder’s account of Elgar’s choral masterpiece ranks with the greatest ever committed to disc.’
Their latest recording – a performance of Elgar’s The Spirit of England paired with Bax’s In Memoriam – was described by The Mail on Sunday as ‘a choral work of elegance and power’ and named their Album of the Week. It was released on 3 February 2017 on the Hallé CD Label.
The Hallé will conclude Sir Mark’s birthday celebrations, and their 2016-17 season, with a performance of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder alongside the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra on Sunday 4 June.