White Rose Orchestra SUNDAY 30 JUNE at Grove Methodists’ Church Hall, Horsforth 7 p.m.

and Bridge Ensemble at St Matthews Church, Chapel Allerton, on Saturday 6 July at 7.30 p.m.

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns was one of musical history’s most remarkable and precocious child prodigies, so it is entirely fitting that North Leeds witnesses a youthful take on two of his searching concertante pieces in the coming week.

York-born Claire Marsden, one of Chetham’s School’s promising post-16 students and co-principal horn in the National Youth Orchestra, plays the Morceau de Concert, a small-scale concerto, with the White Rose Orchestra at Horsforth’s Grove Methodists’ Hall. The usual three-movement format (fast-slow-fast) is here condensed into a single span, a structural ploy much-favoured by the composer. There is much rewarding music for the audience, sustained lyricism from this most expressive instrument in the slow section – and pyrotechnics aplenty in the finale. Making the technical challenges of the ending, lip trills and a compass spanning fully three octaves sound easy will make for fascinating listening.

As Claire, herself, comments from the performer’s perspective: “The work has a very bold opening statement and throughout the ‘first movement’ this main theme is featured with varying rhythmical ideas. The second section is very lyrical and explores the low register of the horn. The final movement is very virtuosic, using leaps in register, rapid articulation, and a flourishing end. I love playing this piece because you can inject so many different emotional ideas into the distinct sections and it shows the variety of the horn’s capabilities”.

The rest of the White Rose’s programme are further French works: Gounod’s Beethoven/Mendelssohn-influenced First Symphony and the charming Pavane of Gabriel Fauré, a Saint-Saëns pupil, interspersed with two notable Russian pieces, Borodin’s magically evocative In The Steppes of Central Asia and what may be the first specified orchestral waltz, Glinka’s robust, yet irresistible, Valse-Fantasie. Archie Russell Weeks conducts.

St. Matthew’s, Chapel Allerton, welcomes the return of the Bridge Ensemble for a concert which includes, after the interval, Brahms’ ever-green Second Symphony. Before that they perform Welsh composer, Morfydd Llwyn Owen’s highly-atmospheric tone poem, Morfa Rhuddlan. Rhuddlan is a small coastal town in North Wales, through which the River Clwyd flows into the Irish Sea. “Morfa” translates as “marsh” and the piece evokes the characteristic features of this sometimes peaceful, sometimes stormy estuarine landscape.

Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 was considered by composers Shostakovich and Rachmaninov, as the greatest of all such works for that instrument. Like the Morceau de Concert, the composer links the normally separate movements as three sections forming a single piece. The two outer parts showcase the cello’s lively attributes with some rapid, yet rhapsodic melodies, but, perhaps the finest segment is its slow centre, in which the composer, a scholar of musical history in his youth, evokes a refined courtly minuet to which even Louis XIV might have been tempted to tap his foot.

James Hindle

The soloist here has been changed. The cellist will be Sheffield-based James Hindle, a second-year undergraduate at London’s Royal Academy. He has studied the Concerto with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and will perform the work at short notice, a proposition that, perhaps, only fearless youth would undertake. William Dutton conducts.

Main image: The Cello.

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