Ilona Hepburn in the Schumann ‘Cello Concerto. Ted Kirk’s review of the concert on November 16 th 2013 Bright Skies the concert was called, because it showed some great composers in carefree mood. Mendelssohn on a holiday tour of Scotland; Bartók and Brahms dancing with the country folk of Hungary and Romania respectively; and the magnificent joyous symphony with which Mozart honoured a big wedding in the Haffner family of Vienna. The outstanding item of the concert was a lesser-known one, Schumann’s ’Cello Concerto. A happy and melodious work, it’s also a huge test for the ’cello soloist, full of spectacular and technically difficult music. Ilona Hepburn, better known to the audience as the Sinfonietta’s regular principal ’cellist, took on the solo rôle and rose triumphantly to every challenge. Her rich tone and confident delivery made this a performance of great impact and supreme expressive beauty. The orchestra, aware that they were in on something a bit special, gave sensitive support, and a great ovation greeted Ilona’s triumphant rocket to the improbably high note that ends the piece. The St Helens Sinfonietta and its conductor Alan Free were on top form throughout the evening. The Hebrides Overture , Mendelssohn’s response to the awesome scenery of Fingal’s Cave and its surrounding seascape, was presented in vivid detail, and the Brahms and Bartók dance suites had real ethnic atmosphere. The Haffner Symphony crowned an evening full of energy and delight, and an extra Hungarian Dance as encore sent a packed audience home more than satisfied.