Founder-conductor Peter Craddock’s aim of programming music off the beaten track was delightfully honoured by the HCO in its final concert of the 2015-16 season.
Current music director Robin Browning began the programme with the Serenade for Small Orchestra by little-known Hungarian composer Leo Weiner, and the players caught its perky character delightfully.
The conductor maintained good control of transitions throughout, and revelled in the second movement’s rustic dance and the third’s authentic Hungarian feel, expressed particularly by clarinet and bassoon.
Pianist Karen Kingsley, rightly a favoured soloist, seemed at times to be feeling her way in Mozart’s Concerto No 21 but the andante was persuasive at a flowing tempo and the finale produced a beautifully characterised cadenza and irresistible gallop to the finish.
The programme ended with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 4, the Italian.
Here the conductor resisted the temptation to drive the quick movements too hard and achieved well-defined playing throughout.
Textures in the middle movements were carefully and beautifully balanced to deliver clarity without losing anything in expressiveness, and even at a taxing tempo the finale bubbled with infectious high spirits.