Stockport Express

Finale of masterful renditions


THE baton of brilliant Mexican conductor Carlos del Cueto seemed magically charged as he helped the Stockport Symphony Orchestra end their season of stirring concerts. Born of inner conflicts and having no published programme, Sibelius’ splendid En Saga opened a door of swirling mists onto a land of myth and legend. His musical time-machine took us on a wild ride through rugged regions of the human soul, bringing us back breathless but exhilarate­d.

From glaciers, geysers, glorious and gory goings-on, we found the more muted and introspect­ive atmosphere summoned by the Spanish guitar in Rodrigo’s much-adored Concierto de Aranjuez strangely tranquil.

The strings of superb soloist Mark Ashford released warm winds, fragrant gardens, silver streams and bubbling birdsong. The sense of vulnerabil­ity which opens Tchaikovsk­y’s Pathetique Symphony, No.6, built to a storm, which broke suddenly about our heads. Carlos and the SSO drew out to perfection every possible degree of drama and pathos. The waltz-like 2nd. Movement - was it bright chandelier­s and glittering ball or else shadows and danse macabre?

The Scherzo was wonderfull­y manic; the Berlin Phil themselves could not belt this out with more blistering self-belief, bravado or zest.

The Adagio finale breathed heavily, groaning in paroxysms of grief until, with stunning effect, all hope seemed buried in oblivion. Dave Brock

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