Georges Enescu is Romania’s best-known composer, and the influence of folk music is strong in his music. Using melodic ballads as its themes, Romanian Rhapsody No.2 opens with a sustained melody which the strings played with a sonorous, legato tone. This was repeated and developed by the full orchestra. Before the ending, an interlude introduced a lively folk dance melody on a solo viola.
American Samuel Barber is best known for his Adagio for Strings, but his Cello Concerto, played brilliantly by Richard Harwood, is one of the staples of the 20th century cello repertoire.
The energetic opening Allegro features a technically difficult cadenza, played here with superb skill.
Shostakovich had a constant battle with the Russian culture police, but they were happy with the music for the ideological 1955 film “The Gadfly”. It is an interesting collection of 12 short pieces in a pastiche of styles, some very Russian, which range from a stately Contredance, a Barrel-Organ Waltz and a Galop, to the famous Romance, a violin solo beautifully played by Tony Mason. The cello solo in the Nocturne was played by Imogen Lloyd. A rousing Scene brought the concert to an end in a blaze of sound.