WNO Orchestra in concert, St Davids Hall by Barbara Michaels.

Conductor: Carlo Rizzi

Violin: Alexander Sitkovetsky

Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave)

Bruch: Scottish Fantasy

Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

(4 / 5)

A pleasure to see the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera performing – stand alone, as it were – as part of the 2019 International Concert series at the St. David’s Hall on Sunday.

With a programme which begun with Mendelssohn’s melodic Hebrides Overture, known as Fingal’s Cave and one of the first examples of musical impressionism, the performance continued with a further nod to the recent Burns Night with Bruch’s all-embracing Scottish Fantasy, with solo violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky giving a performance which showcased the expertise and versatility of this Moscow-born musician.

But it was not Scotland all the way – not by any means.  After the interval we were treated to the symphony which was to stabilise Rachmaninov’s success – Symphony No.2. This performance of what is arguably Rachmaninov’s most highly charged  and emotional symphony, embracing thematic material in a work that encompasses so much, and described from the podium by Rizzi himself as being “a virtuoso performance from the entire orchestra” proved to be, under Rizzi’s baton and performed by the WNO, indeed that, showing the strengths of this Wales-based orchestra and once again demonstrating that it is up there with the best.

A tumultuous and well-deserved ovation for Rizzi and the orchestra, as well as for the talented Sitkovetsky who gave us our money’s worth with an encore.

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