BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Classical music is not always top of the agenda for a night out in Aberystwyth. Had you dismissed it out of hand, however, you would have missed the National Orchestra of Wales (NOW) performing to a surprisingly varied audience, in an encapsulating concert at the end of March.

Four pieces were delicately selected to showcase the talents of Wales’ only professional symphony orchestra; recognisable but less well known pieces which effectively raised interest without allowing the night to descend into the impenetrably highbrow.

Schumann’s Genoveva overture began the evening on a lively tone, with the opening to his medieval inspired opera building to an impressive crescendo reminiscent of Wagner without the guilt by association felt on listening to the latter.

The highlight of the evening was the solo performance of Tchaikovsky’s well known Violin Concerto by the prolifically talented twenty-five year old Norwegian Vilde Frang. A soloist from the age of twelve, Frang executed every note of this piece, often considered the greatest test of a violinist’s skill, with delicacy and fluidity. Playing a piece with more false endings than the Lord of the Rings, each resurgence remained a pleasure to the ear.

The second half of the performance featured Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Haydn’s London Symphony. Writing in the early twentieth century, Prokofiev deliberately aimed to echo the style and pay homage to his musical hero and forebear. Here we saw two symphonies, dignified pieces able to exhibit music ranging from the hauntingly eerie to the spectacularly overblown.

I could not leave without a word on the conductor, Jac Van Steen. His performance was amongst the loudest of the night, and the audience could be forgiven for at times believing that he was depriving a mime company of its most prolific artist. Personally, however, I found it added an extra dimension of entertainment to the evening, and could forgive him for stealing a kiss at the close of his performance from a soloist half his age.