Smetana, Bruch, Tchaikovsky

The second evening of the Aix festival, Saturday 9 April, saw the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice under Lionel Bringuier present a fascinating programme of Smetana, Bruch and Tchaikovsky.

The concert began with a rousing performance of Bedrich Smetana’s ‘Vltava’ (The Moldau) from his patriotic work ‘Ma Vlast’. The piece evokes the sounds of the river Moldou as it runs through the woods and meadows of thr Czech landscape. Instantly recognisable as Smetana’s best-known work it was sublimely played.

Lionel Bringuier conducting the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice

This was followed by Max Bruch’s ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra no. 1’, featuring the festival’s artistic director Renaud Capuçon. The concerto is one of the best-loved works for the instrument, although it is also one of the most difficult to play. However, it was performed with great passion by the soloist as well as the orchestra.

The second half brought an extremely well-played rendition of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Symphony no. 5’. The first section of the opening movement was lively and spirited before becoming more tranquil before the second movement, beginning in B minor, brought a more sombre mood, although it was never gloomy. The third movement, a waltz, was elegently played, before the final movement began with a quite stately tempo but which then became more powerful before reaching the coda which, whilst thrilling, never went over the top. It was an excellent end to a thoroughly-enjoyable concert.

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