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Review: The Halle St David’s Hall, Cardiff

14 May 2022 3 minute read
Photo by ell brown is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Peter Collins

Stroll around Cardiff or many other cities on a warm spring day and you may come across a street musician playing the slow movement of Mozart’s clarinet concerto. It’s sensuous lyricism captures the reinvigorating, soft gentleness of the season.

Such musicians do not attempt to play the concerto in its entirety. For that one has to go to the concert hall to hear a professional musician put that famous adagio movement into context.

At this concert, Spanish musician Sergio Castello Lopez, Principal Clarinet with The Halle, took centre stage in a performance that delighted the audience.

More of Mr Lopez later. First, the orchestra, under the baton of Jonathan Bloxham, performed a splendid work called Suita Rustica, by Czech composer and conductor Vitezslava Kapralova, who died aged just 25 in 1940 from suspected typhoid fever.

Whenever Sir Mark Elder, music director of The Halle, brings the orchestra to St David’s Hall he always expresses his admiration for the venue, especially its acoustic. His point was borne out by this bold and exciting performance of a work that showed the influence of Dvorak whose Symphony No 8 closed this concert.


Jonathan Bloxham marshalled in players with great enthusiasm and ebullience.

The short, dissonant and insistent fanfares of the first movement rang out around the hall, soon to be tempered by the darker tones of the second.

There was much to enjoy in the final movement as Bloxham urged his players onward and upwards, ending with a refreshing orchestral flourish.

If Bloxham is ebullient, Sergio Castello Lopez is no less enthusiastic in his approach. The two men worked together to gives us a performance of Mozart’s clarinet concerto that was truly first class.

The first erroneous thought I had as I watched Mr Lopez walk on stage was how thin his legs appeared to be. But there was nothing thin about the sound he produced. He approached the first movement with great verve and alacrity. There was also impressive subtlety in his phrasing which was mirrored by the fine musicians in the orchestra.


The wistfulness and melancholy of the adagio was beautifully realised by both soloist and orchestra, and there was a sense of fun and delight in the final movement. In these dark, troubling days this was music to soothe the soul and persuade one that there is still joy to be found in the world.

Last month, Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra gave an impressive performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No 8 at the hall. It was fascinating to hear it again at this concert by one of the best orchestras in the world.

Ebullience was again the word that came to mind as Bloxham led the orchestra in a performance that delighted in this outpouring of melodies.

The touching passages of melancholy were realised with tenderness and sensitivity, but it was the excitement and sheer exuberance of this fine performance that had the audience shouting “Bravo!” at the end.

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John Aurof Evans
John Aurof Evans
2 years ago

What a treat to have a review of Classical music,especially from Peter Collins.
More please.

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