With violinists in short supply, this was not the easiest concert for the bigger of the Havant orchestras – but the performances were well-tailored to the circumstances.
The evening’s two conductors, Bob Harding bursary holder Joseph Beckhelling and principal Jonathan Butcher, seemed to opt for a crisper sound, more classical than romantic.
Schumann’s Manfred Overture was strong in characterisation although sometimes weak in ensemble, but the tidy Beckhelling shone more brightly in the third violin concerto by Saint-Saens.
Korean-born soloist Joo Yeon Sir showed fluency in the composer’s long, lyrical lines, with a beguiling smile in her phrasing – especially in the second movement’s limpid barcarolle. Yet she was trenchant, too, in the razzle-dazzle of the finale.
Butcher’s handling of the halting rhythms of Sibelius’s little masterpiece, Valse Triste, was irresistibly deft, and he conjured up a winning performance of Dvorak’s seventh symphony.
This music is often treated more Germanically but he gave us the composer in true Czech pastoral mode – with light and shade, smooth transitions, lilting rhythms and colourful phrasing.
And the orchestra seemed to love it.