Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's pairing of Vladimir Ashkenazy and Viktoria Mullova will be one of 2019's concert highlights.

Ashkenazy has always been wary of Tchaikovskian excess and his carefully measured Romeo and Juliet overture allowed the composer's emotional intensity to speak for itself. There was no lack of drama, as the celebrated love theme increased in passion, complete with sobbing horn obbligato. The players held nothing back in the work's almost gladiatorial outbursts.

Many violinists invest the opening bars of the Sibelius concerto with certain sweetness but from the start, Viktoria Mullova delivered them lithe and lean in keeping with her