Review: ***** RSNO, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota, Florida

AS she introduced Scotland’s national orchestra from the stage of the remarkable purple beach-side concert hall designed by the atelier of superstar American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, President of the Sarasota Concert Association Joy McIntyre launched her organisation’s appeal to subscribers for next year’s season of concerts with a reference her own ancestral heritage. Her confidence in that strategy was justified not only by the quality of the following concert but also by the long line of ticket-holders for CDs signed by the evening’s soloist, Nicola Benedetti.

On a tour that is nearing the bullseye on both promotional and artistic targets with each successive performance, Benedetti is the main attraction, and her increasingly confident command of the Brahms Violin Concerto has been the most exciting journey of the orchestra’s tour, with the rapport between herself, conductor Peter Oundjian and the players at its most complete here.

It is far from the whole story however. While the previous concert’s opening Debussy commanded silent focused listening, the return to Borodin’s Prince Igor Overture as the opening piece was a bracing call to pay to attention to every section of the ensemble, paving the way for an account of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony that audibly benefitted from Oundjian’s focus on specific details of the orchestration during the brief rehearsal before the concert. All of Florida’s multi-purpose venues so far have had a good acoustic, but the orchestra’s music director had identified a question of balance between the winds and the strings that made the arc of this performance a particular pleasure.

The icing on the cake for Ms McIntyre’s subscribers came in the encore of Scottish Eightsome Reels that was also the most excitingly realised of the RSNO’s tour so far.