On face value, the programme on offer from the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment for last night’s Royal Festival Hall concert could hardly have been less inspiring – especially for an orchestra dedicated to shaking up the everyday. I mean, the Brahms Violin Concerto and Dvorak’s New World Symphony! Classic Classic FM stuff. But that was without counting for the brilliance of Viktoria Mullova in the Brahms; without conductor Adam Fischer’s close to boyish enthusiasm on the podium; and without the obvious delight expressed by all and sundry members of the orchestra as they played.
Not even an intruder, who burst into the hall from one of the side doors just before the end of the Dvorak and jumped up on stage, videoing himself prancing about until the officials dragged him away, could deflate the mood nor spoil the performance. And the fact that conductor and orchestra carried on regardless, earned them all the heartier applause at the close.
Mullova, though … matching the relative informality of the orchestra in a simple grey shirt and purple flares – the kind we used to call loon pants – is not only one of the top half-dozen violin soloists currently playing – the cadenza towards the end of the first movement of the Brahms was breathtaking, thrilling – but she shares with Robin Wright an elegance, self-assuredness and beauty that few possess.