Maxim Vengerov at Leeds Town Hall - Saturday , June 9 2018

THE most celebrated violinist of our time has been touring major UK cities with an orchestra of virtuoso musicians named after its founder.

Reinhold Wurth’s $13 billion empire developed from his father’s tiny wholesale screw business.

Last year, the octogenarian businessman and his wife Carmen inaugurated the splendid Carmen Wurth Forum in the small south German city of Kunzelsau. The couple established the Wurth Philharmoniker as the concert hall’s resident orchestra.

The first half was conducted by Athens-born Stamatia Karampini who opened with Johann Strauss’s Overture, Die Fledermaus.

This sparkling piece was played by the seventy-piece orchestra at a mercurial pace and with pin point precision.

Karampini’s shaping of the big Waltz tune captured that sometimes elusive Viennese lilt. The solo clarinet and oboe in the overture’s wistful central section were exquisitely shaped by the Greek conductor.

Audience cheers and bravos built up to a crescendo as the stocky black-suited figure of Maxim Vengerov carrying his gleaming 1727 ex-Kreutzer Stradivari appeared on stage.

The Grammy award winning violinist’s driven performance of Max Bruch’s popular Concerto No 1 in G minor made us sit up and listen afresh.

Vengerov infused every note with a mahogany-like warmth of tone. His colouring and shading of dynamics were breathtaking, the finger-work absolutely brilliant in the fast outer movements. Vengerov’s long, flowing phrases in the soul searching Adagio surely represented the heart of this much loved work.

Saint-Saens’ virtuosic Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin and orchestra seemed like an encore but was actually in the official programme. The ecstatic audience would not let Vengerov go without a solo: Bach’s Adagio in G minor played with rich vibrato - or how to make one violin sound like three.

Any disappointment caused by the replacement of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 10 with Tchaikovsky’s Sixth was tempered as soon as Vengerov’s baton began to carve out the doom laden opening bars of the ‘Pathetique’. Vengerov drew playing of delicacy and passion from the Wurth Philharmoniker in the lyrical second movement. The third movement’s insistent March theme and fast tarantellas grew in volume and intensity to a barnstorming climax. The last movement’s utter desolation encapsulated in those despairing final chords from the six double basses lingered in the Hall. Vengerov walked amongst his orchestra - smiling broadly, shaking hands and bringing players to their feet to acknowledge the rapturous applause at the end of a truly amazing concert.

- Geoffrey Mogridge