The Hallé – Trail-blazing Hallé

Johnny James, Managing Editor
The Hallé

The Hallé - Trail-blazing Hallé, online, 15 April–15 July 2021, from £5 - Book now

CLAUDE DEBUSSY Prélude à l’apres-midi d’un faune
SERGEI RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
HUW WATKINS Symphony No.2 (World Premiere)

Sir Mark Elder CONDUCTOR
Stephen Hough PIANO

The Hallé’s Winter Season is packed with great concerts, but Trail-blazing Hallé promises to be a particularly special one. Conducted by Sir Mark Elder and joined by pianist Stephen Hough, the orchestra will perform the much-anticipated world premiere of Huw Watkins’ Second Symphony alongside an evergreen masterpiece by Rachmaninov and a uniquely sensuous work by Debussy.

The concert opens with Debussy’s Prélude à l’apres-midi d’un faune, which conjures a world of luxurious fantasy as the French composer evokes the dreams and desires of a faun. Drifting hazily into our consciousness and beckoning us forward with quiet, seductive power, the whole work appears to float free of form and convention as Debussy changes scenes with effortless spontaneity.

Awaking from Debussy’s dreamscape, the rest of the concert reflects the Hallé’s trail-blazing advocacy of new music. In 1935, the Hallé, with Rachmaninov himself as soloist, gave the UK premiere of his Paganini Rhapsody, renowned for the lush romanticism of its 18th variation. Now, it’s the turn of Stephen Hough, described by the Washington Post as “a virtuoso who begins where others leave off”, to offer his insight into this evergreen masterpiece, on his third visit to the Hallé.

Bringing the concert to a close is a major new work by Huw Watkins. After the first performance of Watkins’ Symphony No.1 in 2017, its immediacy made such a strong impression on Sir Mark, the Hallé musicians and audiences alike, that a recording followed as well as a further commission. In the wake of such enthusiasm, Watkins has composed his Second Symphony, which receives its world premiere here.

Broadcasting from The Bridgewater Hall, the concert – as with the Hallé’s entire Winter Season – will be available to stream on Vimeo at, and tickets can be purchased via the orchestra’s website.

The Hallé - Trail-blazing Hallé, online

15 April–15 July 2021
From £5