Julian Rachlin with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall, 21 November 2014

In this the first of two collaborations with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, violinist/conductor Julian Rachlin takes us on a musical sojourn through the colourful scores of Glinka, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Charmingly attired in a formal tailcoat, Rachlin enters the auditorium under a sea of enthusiastic applause. The gallery above abounds with his adoring young fans.

Glinka’s rousing overture to the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842) opens tonight’s concert. Considered ‘the father of Russian Music’, his compositional style paved the way for composers such as Balakirev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Rachlin’s choice of tempo here is well judged, and his animated rapport with the orchestra is refreshing. Securely paced swirling strings add suitable drama to the unfolding triumphant tutti theme. The soundscape ebbs and flows beautifully beneath Rachlin’s direction. The audience of the National Concert Hall receives his interpretation with sincere enthusiasm.

Following a brief interval to accommodate the reorganization of the orchestra, Rachlin returns to play and conduct Mozart’s charming Violin Concerto (1775). His flirtatious and mischievous interaction with the members of the ensemble creates a wonderful sense of unity as they weave the threads of this beguiling musical tapestry. Rachlin’s playing is flawlessly mesmerising. His technical facility and command of tone in the upper register of his instrument is impressive. Rachlin annunciates each well-crafted phrase with sheer elegance.

The concert concludes with a stunning performance of Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony (1878) — a work that vividly encapsulates the darkness that enshrouded the composer during this time. Without doubt, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra is at its finest here tonight. The energy and skill through which it collectively delivers a superb imagining of this orchestral warhorse is commendable. One of the many highlights appears in the third movement in which the strings section handle the difficult pizzicato texture of the Scherzo with pure technical brilliance.  Special mention also goes to the members of the brass who shine throughout the first and final movements. Bravo to all involved!


Glinka: Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, Turkish, K.219
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36