The Hallé – Elgar’s Enigma Variations at The Bridgewater Hall

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Benjamin Ealovega

The Hallé - Elgar's Enigma Variations at The Bridgewater Hall, City Centre, 3 June 2021, From £18.50 (Subs, concs and £5 student tickets also available) - Book now

2.15pm and 7pm

Opening the Hallé’s much-anticipated Summer Season is a concert featuring Elgar’s seminal Enigma Variations and Stravinsky’s blazing ballet, Petrushka, conducted by Sir Mark Elder at The Bridgewater Hall.

One of the most cherished pieces of the 19th Century, Elgar’s Enigma Variations contains a series of 14 musical portraits of the composer’s friends, family and self. The best known is the serenely lyrical ‘Nimrod’ variation, which captures the composer’s profound friendship with music publisher August Jaeger.

Elgar claimed to have hidden a musical puzzle deep in the heart of his Variations; he noted that “through and over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes’ but is not played.” This theme has been variously guessed to be ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘God Save the Queen’ and most recently, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.

The variations were premiered at London’s St James’ Hall in 1899, conducted by Hans Richter, who that year became the Hallé’s Music Director. 122 years later, the piece marks the momentous return of the orchestra to Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.

In 1910, a 28-year-old Igor Stravinsky had just found huge success with his ballet The Firebird, and was now tasked with the most difficult of artistic creations: the follow-up. Premiered by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company in 1911, Petrushka, which tells the tale of a hapless puppet with human emotions, was another overnight hit with the public, for whom it became the latest word in musical modernism.

The bold, brash music is characterised by the so-called Petrushka chord, whereby C major and F♯ major triads are played together – a bitonal device that heralds the appearance of Petrushka, and represents the conflicting sides of his character – the human versus the puppet. The work starts in a blaze of brilliance evoking the St Petersburg Shrovetide Fair, but ends mysteriously with Petrushka’s theme wailing on trumpet as, chillingly, his ghost appears over the rooftops.

Capping off the programme is Glinka’s overture to his Pushkin-inspired ‘magic opera’, Ruslan and Ludmilla. With its barn-storming brilliance, laced with Russian lyricism, it’s the perfect curtain-raiser to the Hallé’s Summer Season 2021.

If you’re unable to attend the physical performance, you can tune into a broadcast of the concert via thehalle.vhx.tv from Thursday 10 June.

The Hallé - Elgar's Enigma Variations at The Bridgewater Hall, City Centre

3 June 2021 2:15 pm
From £18.50 (Subs, concs and £5 student tickets also available)

Dates and Times

  • 3 June 2021 2:15 pm
  • 3 June 2021 7:00 pm
  • Always double check dates and times with the venue before making a special visit

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Cinema Until 29 September 2022, from £9.95

Crimes of the Future at HOME

Activity Until 30 September 2022, from £25.00

Canoeing and Kayaking on the Mersey

Families Until 1 October 2022, from £13.00

Mrs Doubtfire at Manchester Opera House

MFDF 2022
Festivals Until 2 October 2022,

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2022

Cinema Until 3 October 2022, from £9.95

Not Just Bollywood at HOME

Music Until 5 October 2022, from £5.50

Sounds of Nature at The Stoller Hall

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange
Theatre Until 8 October 2022, from £10.00

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange

Electric Gamebox at the arndale
Childrens Until 22 October 2022, from £5.00

Electric Gamebox at The Arndale

Victoria Baths Guided Tour
Activity Until 26 October 2022, from £6

Victoria Baths Guided Tour

Illustration entitled ‘Because you cannot tame something so happily wild’ by Emily Hughes showing painted animals in a woodland setting
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Picture This at The Lowry

vegan super club
Activity Until 25 November 2022, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School