Musical feast for launch of season

The Sheffield International Concert season got off to a cracking start when the Halle, with the tremendous Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, performed William Walton’s spectacular cantata Belshazzar’s Feast.

The sonorous tones of bass singer David Soar perfectly complemented the massed ranks of the chorus as they whisked their way through words written written by Osbert Sitwell, who grew up at Renishaw Hall.

Walton’s rousing piece filled the second half of the evening’s programme at the City Hall and full marks must go to conductor James Burton who kept the huge orchestra and large chorus all together in tremendous style.

The first half kicked off with a tone poem by Edward Elgar and a suite from Aaron Copeland’s ballet score Appalachian Spring.

I was unfamiliar with Elgar’s In the South (Alassio) but it had the master’s fingerprints all over it and was written after a holiday in Italy.

Copeland’s material is very distinctive and his 1944 Appalachian music, cut through with jazz overtones, started slowly before building to a thrilling conclusion.

The next classical music concert at Sheffield City Hall sees the visit of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra on Thursday, October 20.

Touring bands always prove popular and the Russians will be playing music by Mussorgsky, Shostakovich and Ginka. The concert has a start time of 7pm.

ANDREW JARVIS