Swedish Philharmonia – Review – Hull City Hall

Swedish Philharmonia – Review – Hull City Hall

By Katl Hornsey, March 2023

Just before the pandemic hit in 2019 and stopped all forms of live entertainment, the Swedish Philharmonia toured the UK, so it was great to see them back on these shores this week after such a challenging time over the last few years. Their latest tour takes them to 10 locations in England and Scotland, and their only visit to Yorkshire was at Hull City Hall, where a small but appreciative audience was treated to a rousing concert, the highlight of which was the appearance of Serbian-French violinist Nemanja Radulovic (top image).

The first piece of the evening was one close to the hearts of all involved, given that it was composed by Bo Linde, who lived in the orchestra’s home city of Gavle, and whose son is part of the line-up on the current tour. Linde’s ‘A Merry Overture’ is just that, a short piece at just six minutes, but one full of life and brightness throughout, which proved an ideal way to start the concert. The second piece brought Radulovic to the stage to lead the orchestra in Khachaturian’s only violin concerto, in D minor, with this piece interchanging on the other tour dates with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

“Sheer delight”

Radulovic really is a sight and sound to behold, putting everything into his performance, which is no mean feat in such a free-flowing piece of music that offers little respite to the violinist. The folk songs of the composer’s native Armenia shine through, interspersed with moments of almost volcanic eruption as the whole orchestra joins together to raise the tempo (and the volume) up the scale by several notches. Radulovic quite rightly enjoyed several rounds of applause for his energetic efforts, with his enthusiasm and joy in playing the piece clearly rubbing off on his audience.

Following a brief interlude, the orchestra and conductor Jaime Martin returned to the stage for the final piece – Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony – and it’s worth mentioning the influence of the conductor on the performance and on the orchestra as a whole. Having garnered a reputation as one of the world’s leading flautists, Martin’s connections in the classical music world have enabled the Swedish Philharmonia to work with a number of greats of the genre in recent years, and his sheer delight and energy on stage was wonderful to see.

His heartfelt comments to the audience ahead of the final piece were very touching, and the orchestra responded in kind under his baton to recreate the grandeur of Sibelius’s symphony, which, in true style from the Finnish composer, touches on his country’s fight for independence from Russian influence. While the Swedish Philharmonia are now set to depart the UK once again, it’s certainly worth looking out for their next tour, and especially if Jamie Martin remains at the forefront for them.

Top image: Charlotte Abramow [Deutsche Grammophon]


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