A couple of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances rounded off a resoundingly successful concert at the City Hall from the Prague orchestra which, on this showing, is eminently capable of giving the more famous Czech Philharmonic a run for its money.
The orchestral balance with a palette of colourful nuances was superb with highly skilled and rounded playing in all instrumental departments.
Smetana’s bloodthirsty Šárka, the shortest of his six Má Vlast symphonic tone poems, made for an exciting opening and Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, a magnificently triumphant ending – the two Slavonic Dances, well known ones from the Op 72 and Op 46 sets, respectively, and played as encores notwithstanding.
Both were yet proof again that only Czech orchestras can only truly do justice to the music of their native land. The reason is something that defies defining. Whatever it is, you could ‘see’ the pictures the symphony was painting.
Chloë Hanslip came up with a Beethoven Violin Concerto with a difference in between, playing the whole of the first movement in her instrument’s high register, often with the greatest delicacy of projection and, amazingly, remaining just about audible in the most feather-light instances.
In the same frame of mind in second movement, it was saved from becoming rather monotonous by the sheer artistry of her playing and the orchestra’s recently appointed Finnish music director Pietari Inkenen being entirely happy to be on her wavelength with fabulous orchestral support, not least some beautifully subtle bassoon playing.