Pfitzner’s Three Preludes from his opera, Palestrina. Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular Violin Concerto. Mendelssohn’s sunny ‘Italian’ Symphony. What a marvellous program. All intensely melodic works, yet all the products of different influences, of different traditions.

Vadim Gluzman Vadim Gluzman. Photo © Marco Borggreve

How interesting, then, that soloist Vadim Gluzmanshould have chosen as his encore Bach’s Sarabandefrom the D minor Partita. Technically demanding yet unshowy. Movingly melodic yet starkly intellectual. It was an exquisite performance – meditative, undemonstrative, profound. Thinking back now, it formed, in microcosm, a musical Ars Poetica, an abstract, a central thesis, for the entire program.

Why? Because WASO principal conductor Asher Fisch’s customary balance of intellectual engagement, technical precision and deep understanding of operatic as much as instrumental styles and traditions ensured more than lip service was paid to the Wagnerian underpinnings of the Pfitzner, the disciplined romanticism of the Tchaikovsky and the Mozartian inflections of the Mendelssohn.

It goes without saying that WASO played their hearts out for Fisch. They always do, and this was evident from the outset, Pfizner’s slightly bonkers sound-world and sometimes novel orchestrations (the pronounced use of flutes and trombones alone evoke...

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