The Bartered Bride – Overture
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.53
Trumpet Concerto in E flat
Symphony No.8 in G, Op.88
Charlie Siem (violin)
Jan Hasenöhrl (trumpet)
Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed by: Bob Briggs
Reviewed: 8 February, 2010
Venue: Cadogan Hall, London
It was a joy to hear this performance of the ‘Overture’ to Smetana’s opera “The Bartered Bride”. For once, it bubbled with jollity, had bags of charm and, most important of all, it wasn’t rushed. Petr Altrichter chose a tempo which was just this side of hectic and made merry with the thing. A real pleasure.
Dvořák’s Violin Concerto may not be the best of this composer. However, with playing of great strength from both Charlie Siem and the orchestra, it emerged proud and resplendent, a strong work which commanded attention. The slow movement was particularly heart-warming and the finale was full of the dance. Soloist and orchestra made the most of this music and one could almost believe that it was in the same category as Dvořák’s great Cello Concerto.
And how wonderful, after the interval, to hear Hummel’s entertaining Trumpet Concerto in a sparkling performance by the principal trumpet, and creator of, this orchestra, Jan Hasenöhrl, who impressed with some florid playing, superb trilling and a gorgeous lyrical line. He was well supported by the orchestra and Altrichter wasn’t afraid to allow it to play when the chance arose – such as in the long exposition of the first movement which could have been the start of something symphonic so sure was the direction.
Something symphonic brought this concert to a rousing conclusion. The Eighth of Dvořák’s symphonies is the most outgoing and thoroughly enjoyable of the set, so full of grace, allure and good tunes – indeed, there are so many tunes that the composer seldom has time to fully work them out. Altrichter, choosing tempos slightly faster than we might be used to, brought the house down with the sheer exuberance and delight in the music making. Altrichter goes for the emotional, rather than the intellectual, core of music. These were inspirational performances.