Review: Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra, St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich

Pianist Alexander Ullman

Pianist Alexander Ullman - Credit: Archant

Christopher Smith is delighted by an enthralling performance of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto, one of the best-loved classical works of all time.

With the bustling vigour of Kabalevsky's Colas Breugnon overture the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra under Matthew Andrews began Saturday's concert in grand style.

With his interpretation of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto the award-winning pianist Alexander Ullman enthralled and delighted the enthusiastic audience in St Andrew's Hall, Norwich.

He mingled delicacy and fire, shaping powerful crescendos precisely with poetic artistry. Next came Czech music with a patriotic dimension. The strings showed their qualities in Josef Suk's 1914 Meditation on St Wenceslas, with the violas particularly impressive.

The whole orchestra, led by Elizabeth Marjoram, was in top form for Martinu's Third Symphony. The work expressed the composer's anguish over his country's suffering in the Second World War. The brass was powerful, and the percussion was relentless in rhythms that were reinforced by Anne Duarte at the piano. Woodwinds confidently caught the lighter mood in the finale with its glimpses of better times ahead.

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