Review of Buxton Fringe Concert 2012

I am by no means fit to comment on the technical content of this concert played in the awe
inspiring space of Saint John's Church with its marvellous acoustics. I am, however, fully
qualified to comment on how enjoyable it was - tea, biscuits and all!

This very well attended event for an evening of top quality performance was conducted by the
ever incontrovertible majesty of Andrew Hodkinson.

We began with the rousing alarms of Beethoven's Fidelio Overture Opus 72b and then moved
into the familiar openings of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Major. The second half, post tea
and biscuits, was filled with Brahm's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat. For the Brahms piece the
audience and orchestra welcomed the soloist Benjamin Powell who proceeded to produce a
performance of the highest quality and demonstrated what a talented player he is - brilliant
and intelligent piano.

The High Peak Orchestra excelled throughout the evening and maintained a professional
level of quality throughout, with some especially beautiful moments in the Brahms where the
cello took centre stage.

I must personally congratulate myself on my self control to not embarrass myself and burst
into applause (again) whenever the music stopped...or paused, I'm not sure which and still
am not completely sure.

This was an evening of quality that adds yet another dimension to the fringe programme and
shows just how talented our local musicians are.

High Peak Orchestra next perform on Saturday 17th November in the Buxton Methodist
Church at 7.30pm where they will play pieces by Vaughan Williams, Brahms and

Paul Harrison 15th July 2012

Click on the inks below to see Videos of the July 2011 concert on YouTube


Old News!

CONCERT - High Peak Orchestra July 2010 Review

The High Peak Orchestra's concert on the Fringe is a reliable pleasure each year, and again this time.  Programming includes the orchestral standards, standard for good reason, with a leavening of the less usual, and this one fitted that pattern neatly.  The level of performance similarly fitted the pattern, good so that the listeners could relax confidently, even if sometimes with a slight sense of danger - adding to the excitement.

These days we can all access almost any music played by professionals of marvellous ability and polish, and listen at any time and almost any place, but there is something extra in the live performance, and something completely different for those performing, inside the music.  Where they are amateurs, the end result will probably lack the professionals' polish and definition, but the immediacy and the enthusiasm communicate themselves to the audience, and the Fringe is surely a highly suitable place for such endeavour and enthusiasm.

The programme started with Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet fantasy overture, familiar sweeping tunes painting pictures of the well-known story, Montagues & Capulets clashing, and the great love theme and its doomed ending.  Tchaikovsky revels in the use of the full orchestra in full swing, as well as his more delicate moments.

Erich Korngold's Violin concerto in D major followed, with Oliver Nelson as fleet-fingered soloist.  Korngold was a child prodigy in the manner of Mendelssohn, who is now remembered most for his very successful career composing film scores in Hollywood, for which he won two Oscars.  His film music was lush and tuneful, and he uses some of it, to great effect, in this concerto, written for Heifetz, and not now very often performed.  The busy solo line rides sweetly above the warm orchestral accompaniment, and the cadenzas are dazzling.  The soloist seemed very much in control of affairs, and the difficulty of the music for the performers didn't stop the (or us) enjoying it thoroughly,

The evening finished with Brahms' 4th Symphony, a work which may be carefully analysed to display its interesting forms and craftsmanship, or, equally, enjoyed as "just" a ravishing sequence of sounds.  It is part of the regular orchestral repertoire, and familiarity breeds only admiration and pleasure.  The large orchestra is used to the full, and Brahms makes great demands on the conductor's and players' skills.  Once again the pleasures of immediacy outweighed occasional roughness or imbalance.

You can't hear them again on this year's Fringe, but make a note for 2011!

Ursula Birkett


Buxton Festival Fringe Review of the HPO July concert 2009

"Over the years Andrew Hodkinson has constantly encouraged the development of the HPO so that now they were able to present what was a sparkling Fringe Concert to a packed St John's Church.

A rousing opening with Rossini's Overture the thieving Magpie prepared the way for the well known 'cello concerto by Dvorak.  The soloist was Simon Turner, now second 'cello with the Hallé and with an impressive musical background.  Sensitive playing from him was just what this work required in order to bring out the beautiful melodies which reminded us of the composer's enthusiasm for national music and his simple peasant origins.

The concert concluded with Rachmaninov's last work - the symphonic dances.  This composition exhibits Rachmaninov's interest in the tones of different instruments such as the alto saxophone, harp and piano as well as more conventional orchestral instruments.  It is one of the composer’s most difficult works to play successfully, requiring immense concentration on the part of the performers.  By committing themselves to that the result was one of the most compelling performances that HPO have given on the Fringe."

Buxton Festival Fringe Review of the HPO July concert 2008

"A  capacity audience in St John's church gave an enthusiastic reception to another fine programme from the High peak Orchestra whose concert has now become one of the musical highlights of the Fringe.

The highpoint of the programme was Martinu's oboe concerto. Composed in 1955 the work is not well known but in fact the music is really approachable and enjoyable.  A great coup for the orchestra was soloist Richard Simpson - principal oboist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and president of the HPO. And we were not disappointed.  Richard gave us a spirited but sensitive interpretation of the work marvelously assisted by his wife Janet playing the piano part, almost as demanding as the oboe solo.

The programme had opened with Dvorak's twenty seven variations Op 78.  These variations are very much in the strong traditionalist tradition which colours almost all of Dvorak's compositions.  There is no affectation in his music; just simple clarity of expression which the orchestra caught very well in their performance.

The programme concluded with a strongly romantic performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 5. In this work the composer makes serious demands on the orchestra, particularly the horns and clarinets, but they rose magnificently to the challenge and the result was one of the best performances from the HPO that this reviewer has heard in many years of attending their concerts.  It is amazing how Andrew Hodkinson continues to develop their abilities."


back to top of page