Leeds Town Hall, Saturday 30th May 2015:
Walton, Belshazzar’s Feast: Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, Leeds Festival Chorus and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
Premiered in the Town Hall eighty-four years ago, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast received a superb performance from the Leeds Philharmonic and Festival Choruses as the conclusion to an outstanding concert season.
In a venue that is usually the graveyard of clear diction, every word was so immaculately clear, and, at that ‘death or glory’ moment, the shouted word, ‘slain’, can surely never have been so electrifying.
Much praise to the conductor, Simon Wright, who kept the work moving with urgency, persuading the BBC Philharmonic to take it to white heat, though without ever sounding rushed, while the Leeds male sections were uncommonly robust in today’s choral world.
The voice of the baritone soloist, David Wilson-Johnson, was rather too easily lost when the chorus was singing, but was persuasive in acting out his chilling role.
The evening had already reached a high point with Peter Donohoe as the scintillating soloist in Ravel’s Piano Concerto. It would have been worth the price of a ticket just to hear him fool our ears by persuading us that the piano is capable of a glissando in the first movement, his playing so astonishingly detailed and precise in the filigree-textured finger work, his musicianship of the highest order.
A very good accompaniment from the BBC orchestra, who were then to strut their solo and combined brilliance in a virtuoso account of Ravel’s Bolero.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 5th June 2015