Who: TWSO: Slavic Masterpieces

When: Sunday 22 May

Where: Clarence Street

Work: Smetena, Wieniawski and Tchaikovsky

Conductor: Rupert D’Cruze, Soloist: Amalia Hall

Reviewed by Andrew Buchanan-Smart


A lovely programme celebrated the 10th anniversary of Rupert D’Cruze as Musical Director of TWSO. The concert opened with one of Smetana’s most popular works – the Vltava, (or ‘The Moldau’) from the tone poem Ma Vlast  (or ‘My Homeland’). Smetana opens with flutes to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia’s great rivers, the Vltava. The orchestra captured the mood of this wonderfully evocative work. One could imagine the swirls and eddies of the river as it majestically flowed in to the Elbe. A nervous opening made way for positive account of this work, with some spirited playing and good ensemble work.

Amalia Hall gave a stunning performance of Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No.2 Op.22, which is possibly one of his most popular works, known for its tunefulness as well as its virtuosity. The lyrical horn passage and the sombre main tune were well handled by the ensemble, which supported and never overshadowed Amalia’s sumptuous and sweet tone – which was greatly aided by the Italian Ruggeri violin that she played. The lilting Romance had an impassioned climax followed by fiery solo cadenza and an energetic gypsy style rondo finale, full of vitality. Hall’s encore, the Andante from Bach’s A minor Sonata, was beautiful.

TWSO gave a good account of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.2 Op.17 known as the Little Russian because of its Ukrainian influences. The ensemble work was tighter, though on occasion due to the small string sections tone did suffer a little. This was made up for, by the fullness of the wind and brass. The characterful march of the second movement was well defined, while the menacing Scherzo molto vivace rhythms carried a dramatic weight. The Finale, full of Russian folk tunes was enjoyable. The overall performance was full of energy and vitality. Rupert D’Cruze and the TWSO captured the essence of these works, which were obviously appreciated by a reasonably large audience

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