Though the main attraction for much of the audience at St. David's Hall would have been the opportunity to hear one of the great orchestral showpieces of the twentieth century, Bartók 's Concerto for Orchestra (and the orchestra were certainly on top form here), it was the music of the first half that particularly stayed in the memory.

The first of the Eastern European composers featured was the Czech modernist Bohuslav Martinů . The work was an unfamiliar one, 'The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca' , a three movement piece in which the large range of orchestral colour available is wonderfully manipulated as the listener /viewer is moved from one image to another. The sumptous string sound was a particular feature throughout the concert.

The highlight of a 'five-star' concert was the performance of Dvořάk's strangely neglected violin concerto. It contains all the lyricism, virtuosity, scale and, in the typically Dvořάkian final movement furiant, high spirits, that one could wish for in a Romantic concerto. In the marvellously persuasive hands of the brilliant young Dutch violinist Liza Ferschtman it could not have wished for a more convincing endorsement - passionate and totally committed..

The Bartók Concerto for Orchestra is pretty much 'what it says on the tin' though the showcasing of each section is done through a taut five movement structure using all Bartok's favourite devices - 'night' music, novel use of authentic folk material, and an array of novel sounds. Every section responded spectacularly, driven forward by maestro Jac van Steen, with particular plaudits going to characterful bassoons, and piccolo.