Camerata Salzburg/Nicola Benedetti

Usher Hall

Martin Kershaw.

Four Stars

The music of Mozart has always been at the very centre of Camerata Salzburg's raison d'être, so it was no surprise to see it strongly represented in this concert. Violinist Nicola Benedetti took the spotlight in the first half, with well crafted performances of the 5th Violin Concerto and Rondo for Violin and Orchestra. The challenge with such material is surely in achieving the delicacy and precision necessary without sacrificing expression - a feat she accomplished with assurance and flair. In their accompaniment the orchestra provided excellent support; no mere bit players on the sidelines, but nonetheless always giving the soloist ample room to shine.

If Mozart was the obvious focus, this was not to preclude some nice variety elsewhere in the programme, and the ensemble was able to show its versatility in confidently tackling very different repertoire. Indeed you couldn't want for more of a contrast than Bartok's Divertimento - a work that hurls crunchy modernism at the Hungarian folk tradition, now rampaging, now keening and angst-ridden - all powerfully embodying its composer's own intensely conflicting emotions as he prepared to emigrate to the U.S. Camerata Salzburg deftly explored every twist and turn, uncompromising in their efforts, expertly driven on by conductor Ben Gernon. Similarly, their rendition of Bruckner's exquisite, glacial Adagio from his String Quintet in F Major was sustained and authoritative, measured and moving.

The group gave Mozart the last word though, with a polished, spirited rendition of his Symphony No 29 in A Major. Those famous melodies sounded as fresh and uplifting as when they were written, and continued to reverberate joyously in my ears long after I'd left the venue.