By Eifion Jenkins

IT was a programme guaranteed to please – and it certainly shook the rafters of St David’s Cathedral on Wednesday (July 26) in one of the highlights of the Fishguard Music Festival this year.

It was something of a highlight too for the festival’s joint artistic director Peter Donohoe appearing as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s much loved Piano Concerto No 1.

One of Britain’s most venerable international pianists, Donohoe attacked the piece that Tchaikovsky’s contemporaries once described as unplayable, with vigour and virtuosity in a performance that earned him a justly deserved encore.

But there was so much more to enjoy here – with the powerful forces of the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera also in full flow for the other two pieces of the evening under Finnish conductor Tuomas Hannikainen.

No surprise then to find two great Sibelius works - The Swan of Tuonela and his Symphony No 2.

The first was a haunting and atmospheric tone poem for small forces with the cor anglais as the voice of the sacred swan o Finnish mythology.

The last, his symphony in D, was a feast for lovers of robust horn and brass sections, the composer’s unique stirring and stuttering melodies and innovative orchestration.

Once more, a performance that raised the hairs on the back of the neck and sent the audience home buzzing.