Czech National Symphony Orchestra

FRANK CLIFF St Andrew's Hall, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)


St Andrew's Hall, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)

Last Night's concert by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra under their American chief conductor, Paul Freeman, aptly offered Czech music by that country's greatest composer, Dvorák, and American music, with a performance of Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, plus a baroque trumpet concerto for good measure.

Dvorák's Carneval Overture augers a spectacular beginning to any concert and this performance fulfilled any expectations. All the vivid colours of a Dvorák score were realised in this performance, with the orchestra on top form and Paul Freeman achieving splendid results with the minimum of gesture.

After this, Tartini's Trumpet Concerto in D, actually a transcription of a violin concerto, may have seemed an odd choice, but Jan Hasenöhrl, the orchestra's principal trumpet as well as its founder, made it sound more than convincing in a superb virtuous performance.

Maybe the enduring popularity of the Adagio for Strings has to some extent overshadowed Barber's reputation as one of the most individual voices of 20th century American music. The Violin Concerto, has, however, always maintained a place in the repertoire. Soloist Chloë Hanslip is only 19 yet with her superb technique and, more important, her boundless musicality, gave a superlative reading, bringing a warmth and freshness to the first movement, the most sensitive playing to the lyrical slow movement (which is the core of the work) as well as bringing out all the dramatic qualities of the finale.

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More Czech music to end, with Freeman pacing Dvorak's 8th Symphony beautifully to which the orchestra responded magnificently. It may be a predominantly young orchestra but their playing shows they have this Czech music in their very bones.

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