The beautiful thing about music is that it can be a physical embodiment of passion. Violinist Andrew Haveron’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on Thursday night in Dublin occasionally felt like it lacked a bit of passion, dazzlingly virtuosic though his performance was. Haveron, despite considerable success at the Paganini Competition, seemed to lack emotional power during his performance. That said, his great technique came to the fore in the Canzonetta and Finale, making for a compelling conclusion to the work. The challenge of this testing concerto is the continuity between these movements, and a less experienced violinist might have let the fatigue get to him, but Haveron fought through this to deliver on the night.

The RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s performance, led by conductor John Wilson, was inspired. High praise must be given to Wilson who, throughout the entire night, sought to bring out the most from the orchestra, with a clear, fluid baton technique. During the slow movement of the Violin Concerto, the bow of Haveron’s violin and Wilson’s baton reminded me of a dancing couple, leading the rest of a dance hall in performance. The opening piece of the night, Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor, was introduced delicately by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, erupting powerfully into the strings’ rapid tremolo section, and producing some beautiful woodwind playing. The harpist’s delicate melodic contributions added a beautifully subdued texture to this work, which made me long for more.

With the beautiful opening phrase from the Adagio from Khachaturian’s Spartacus, on harp and flutes, I almost felt like I was in a meadow, listening to the wonderful chirping of nature. A lovely lyrical style shone through the performance of this work, which echoed peace and tranquillity around the hall.

The highlight of the evening was the orchestra’s performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The opening, minor-key theme was presented with a heartfelt sense of longing and despair. My ears were caught up in a sense of mystery and wonder at the lyrical style, once again played beautifully by the orchestra. However, the real beauty in this particular performance lay with the recurring ‘Scheherazade’ theme in the woodwinds. Wilson reminded me of a snake-charmer, drawing out the Arabic influences of this work. I could not help but want to move my head along with the winding melodic contour played by the woodwinds.

Overall, the night’s performance was an interesting mixture of these Russian composers’ styles. While Andrew Haveron’s performance may have lacked a little passion, the Russian influence overall was drawn out beautifully by Wilson, assisting the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in reaching their much-acclaimed high standard once more.