January 2024 sees Kahchun Wong, the Hallé’s Principal Conductor Designate, and the Hallé heading to Spain for a series of three concerts, in the first tour that the orchestra has undertaken since the global pandemic.
The Hallé has toured to Spain regularly since 1988 and on this occasion the trip will take in Alicante and Valencia on the South East coast before ending with a performance in Oviedo in Northern Spain. These concerts offer a glimpse to the future, showcasing the extraordinary things that Kahchun and the Hallé can already do.
The three programmes open with Falla’s stunningly original Ritual Fire Dance, perhaps the most often transcribed section of his remarkably beautiful and powerful ballet, El amor brujo, and end with Shostakovich’s monumental Fifth Symphony, one of the greatest and most powerful of twentieth-century orchestral works. Much of Shostakovich’s extraordinary output was profoundly marked by politics and the judgements of censors and this was, supposedly, ‘A Soviet artist’s response to just criticism’. It is now known that this popular symphony was composed as a work of defiance so subtle that no-one realised at the time.
For the first two concerts, Kahchun Wong and the Hallé are joined by the virtuosic violinist Liza Ferschtman, who performs Brahms’s masterfully-constructed Violin Concerto. Composed in the idyllic scenery of Wörthersee, where Brahms penned melodies so abundantly he had to take care not to tread on them, this lyrical work ends with a spirited Hungarian-style finale. The final concert features Stravinsky’s The Firebird, a runaway success when written for the impresario Diaghilev’s second season of Ballets Russes in Paris. An exotic telling of a Russian fairy tale, this magical journey is bathed in shimmering orchestral colours, from an enchanted forest through dreams, dances and games, from darkness and death, to light and rebirth.