Virtuoso soloist finger-pickin' good
FLANDERS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, CITY HALL
What we had here was a Belgian band, a Montenegran guitarist, a largely Spanish programme and a nod to South Yorkshire to make us feel at home.
That came in the evening's main piece, Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, or 'Orange Juice' as it is known in these parts.
That's right, it is the tune Grimethorpe Colliery Band were rehearsing under the baton of the late Pete Postlethwaite in the film, Brassed Off.
Here it was a showcase for virtuoso guitarist Milos Karadaglic, whose precise, rhythmic, Flamenco-like approach was in sharp contrast to the rather unfocussed contribution of the orchestra, under the relaxed Spanish conductor Jose Luis Gomez.
It was an approach they had already revealed in the curtain-raiser to the evening, Rossini's overture to The Barber of Seville. It is intended to evoke the high spirited fun of one of the great comic operas, but here it came over as rather pedestrian.
Yes, this was an evening of lollipops, which drew a larger than average audience to City Hall and which culminated in suites from another opera, Bizet's Carmen.
That is, of course, not just a lollipop but an entire sweetshop full of familiar tunes, from the Toreador's Song to the Habanera. Again the band sounded solidly Belgian rather than displaying much Spanish flair, at least until they came to the final Bohemian Dance, which at least brought proceedings to an end with a rousing flourish.
It was the mercurial talents of Karadaglic which left the enduring impression in three solo pieces - two Villa Lobos Preludes and a little-known samba by Brazilian composer Isaias Savio - performed with astonishing dexterity. Finger-pickin' good!