Simon Armitage (poet laureate) speaks, Jonathan Bloxham conducts (pictured; Hallé debut). Aaron Copland’s Quiet City (trumpet, cor anglais, strings) is first up, nocturnal reflections, emotions simmering – very well done in this recording from Hallé St Peter’s. There follows the premiere of a Hallé commission, Hannah Kendall’s Where is the chariot of fire?. Inspired by Lemn Sissay’s words, Kendall’s short albeit musically complex response (the scoring includes percussion, harp, piano and tuba) intrigues the ear, led with alacrity by Bloxham. Step forward Jess Gillam for Glazunov’s Alto Saxophone Concerto (one of his final souvenirs, 1934, composed for Sigurd Rascher, sax and strings), a lovely work – poignantly expressive, with eddies of animation and a soupcon of swing – brought off here with affection and eloquence. Finally, Ravel’s Mother Goose (in its Suite form), played tenderly, Bloxham (with and without baton) accommodating with tempo, leaning to the expansive in the slower sections without losing shape. Very moving, not least in the final movement, ‘The Fairy Garden’.

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