Bella Hristova

International Series Two – Saturday 31 May 2014, 8:00 pm Dunedin Town Hall

Tecwyn Evans, Conductor; Bella Hristova, Violin

Programme:
Bach (arr. Stokowski): Toccata and Fugue
Anthony Ritchie: Violin Concerto – world première
Sibelius: Symphony No. 1

Review:

A large and knowledgeable Dunedin audience welcomed back a favourite son on Saturday night, as our own Tecwyn Evans returned to the city to conduct the Southern Sinfonia in a landmark concert at Dunedin Town Hall.

The event, a final celebration of NZ Music Month, featured renowned young international violinist Bella Hristova in the world premiére of Dunedin composer Anthony Ritchie’s Violin Concerto.

The concerto was the concert’s centrepiece and highlight, with Hristova giving her usual masterful, emotionally powerful performance, this time of a work written specifically for her and which provided many opportunities for virtuosic display. Throughout the piece, she received sterling support from the orchestra.

The Violin Concerto itself was a joy to listen to – lyrical and expressive, with overtones of Pasifika rhythms and Hungarian dance, and an evocative sense of nature, complete with birds flitting through the trees.

The deeply satisfying presentation of this lovely work earned the performers and composer a standing ovation from many in the audience.

In a clever opening move, the audience was primed with an unusual orchestral arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, by 20th century organist and conductor Leopold Stokowski.

The concert’s second half featured Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 in E minor, bringing a Scandinavian view of landscape and space that beautifully complemented Ritchie’s work.

Filled with restless energy and often highlighting the orchestra’s woodwind and brass sections, the symphony was nicely handled by Evans and the players.

Reviewed by Brenda Harwood for The Star, Thursday, 5 June 2014.