Philharmonia Orchestra

MICHAEL DRAKE Norfolk and Norwich Festival event at St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


It was obvious this was going to be a tuneful evening with two pieces from Tchaikovsky and it was with the addition of passion galore that, under the conducting of the young Finnish sensation Mikko Franck, the Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet was given a taut and exciting reading.

Sponsored by the EDP, the concert also included the same composer's Symphony No 5 and, after a few bars, I wondered why its first critique was so lukewarm, for in the hands of the large orchestra it was majestically colourful as melodies tumbled over each other for precedence.

That colouring reached a peak in the second movement under a superbly controlled opening horn solo as power and grace flowed freely together.

A surging finale of all-enveloping glorious sound provided musical optimism of the highest order – this world-class ensemble has such body and is just thrilling to listen to.

In between, a most rhythmic performance of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No 2 with Vicktoria Mullover as an energetic soloist.

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The first movement also gave opportunity for some broad bowing, too, and she followed this with extreme lyricism over relatively simplistic orchestration, particularly where the development was over pizzicato violas.

Always rhythmical, the musical stresses were invariably accentuated in a technically demanding, sometimes fierce concerto.

What an orchestral finale to this year's festival.