A portrayal of terror - and memorable melodies...

Soloist Rachael Gibbon
Soloist Rachael Gibbon

Music born of fear will vividly portray the terror of Stalin’s Russia at Todmorden Orchestra’s concert in the Town Hall on Saturday, March 14, at 7.30 pm.

Denounced as a danger to the Soviet people, Shostakovich was a marked man whose life depended on the 5th symphony conforming to the regime’s simplicity, whilst his creative art demanded that he mock it at the same time.

Reported to be “a Soviet artist’s response to justified criticism”, many wept openly during the slow movement of the first performance and the final ovation was almost as long as the symphony itself, writes Diana Doherty.

Nevertheless Shostakovich’s fear of imminent arrest was such that he slept in the stairwell outside his apartment.

To the present day the question whether the last movement is a Stalinist victory hymn or a parody of one continues to be debated.

Verdi’s overture to “The Force of Destiny” will open the concert with some of the composer’s most memorable melodies.

The opera was written as a commission for St Petersburg and it is said that Verdi’s luggage for the trip to Russia included 120 bottles of Bordeaux and 20 bottles of champagne; a reason perhaps for its use in an advert for a well-known brand of lager?

The orchestra will be joined by soloist Rachael Gibbon in Weber’s first clarinet concerto, often considered a gem in the instrument’s repertoire.

Certainly the composer loved the instrument in common with Mozart and Brahms before him and wrote eloquently for what was then still a fairly new single-reed addition to the woodwind family.

A native of Saddleworth, Rachael is a familiar figure in the orchestra, having played bass clarinet in concerts and tutored the wind section.

She has played locally, in particular delighting the audience at the Pennine Spring Music Festival at Heptonstall with her performance of the clarinet quintet also by Weber.

An exciting feature of this centenary year concert will be the string piece “Yes, I remember” by orchestra member, Tim Benjamin whose operas “Emily” and “Madame X” have premiered in Todmorden.

It was commissioned as a tribute for the late Sir Colin Davis and is a reflection on a shared memory of the Christ’s Hospital train station.

The conductor will be Nicholas Concannon Hodges and leader Andrew Rostron.

Tickets are on sale at the door and are also available from the secretary on 01706 817333 or at Todmorden Information Centre at £10, concessions £8 and accompanied children £1.