Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra – St George’s Hall

THE HALLE and touring Russian orchestras are frequent visitors to the Bradford International Orchestral Seasons but the third concert this year was a surprise and very welcome, from Belgium.

Founded in 1935, the orchestra from Brussels offered a conventional programme but commenced with the Polovtsian Dances, which have made Borodin's little-known opera Prince Igor better known, and ended with Saint-Saens’s little performed Organ Symphony. The only regular piece was the concerto, Sibelius' Violin Concerto, which received a shatteringly magnificent performance from a little-known Russian violinist, Alexander Sitkovetsky, but who will be returning in February next year with the Tchaikovsky in Leeds.

The Borodin is quite familiar mainly because its tunes were quoted in a popular musical, Kismet, in the Sixties. Saint-Saens is also known for a few quirks - the dying swan and the organ thumps in the symphony which came over well last week.

But the revelation of the concert was the 31 year-old Alexander Sitkovetsky's riveting playing of the violin concerto, so tense and compelling as to raise it above even the Beethoven and Brahms.

The concert season continues on January 4, with the Halle playing the New Year Celebration Viennese Concert.

St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra will play music by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius when they perform on February 13 with piano soloist Norika Ogawa.

The Halle, conducted by Sir Mark Elder and with Alisa Weilerstein as cello soloist, will return on March 20 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their first performance at St George’s Hall.

The Berne Symphony Orchestra and piano soloist Oliver Schnyder will perform music by Beethoven and Brahms on April 11.

Visit or call 01274 432000 to book tickets for any of the Bradford International Orchestral Season performances.

John Pettitt