A distinguished composer once told me he hoped never to hear another note of Weber’s music - but he might have changed his mind if he had lived long enough to attend Robert Blanken’s performance of the German’s first clarinet concerto.
Blanken stepped forward from his position in the HSO ranks to capture all the music’s singing delicacy, sprightly rhythms and vivid character, with daring pianissimi and assured leaps from top to bottom of the range and back again.
The orchestra, conducted by Bob Harding bursary holder Stuart Draper, here played with a finesse to equal the contrasting rumbustiousness of the finale of Malcolm Arnold’s Little Suite No 1.
HSO musical director Peter Craddock conducted the concert’s opening and closing items.
Verdi’s Sicilian Vespers overture was too ragged to convey a proper sense of impending drama, but Tchaikovsky’s third symphony fared better, particularly in the three central, balletic movements where the woodwind came into their own.
Yet even with the aid of a cut in the finale, Mr Craddock could not disguise the fact that the outer movements are just too plodding to make this symphony remotely worthy of the composer.