A Majestic Reading
MIKE WHEELER is impressed by
Sibelius, Bach and Smetana
from Pietari Inkinen and the CBSO
This should have been one of Sakari Oramo's last concerts as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's Music Director (Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham UK, 29 October 2007), but unfortunately he was indisposed. His place was taken by fellow-Finn, and current Music Director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Pietari Inkinen.
The programme was unchanged, starting with an engaging, musicianly account of Sibelius' Karelia Suite in which the Intermezzo began and ended at a fairly steady tempo and in an expectant atmosphere. After a pensive reading of the Ballade, the Alla Marcia set off with a spring in its step, but also with Inkinien taking a slow-burn approach to building the music's tension that was particularly impressive.
Sakari Oramo was also due to have picked up his violin and joined the CBSO's leader, Laurence Jackson, in Bach's Double Violin Concerto. Although he is also an accomplished violinist Pietari Inkinen declined the chance to step into his shoes, leaving principal second violin Briony Shaw to join her opposite number, and a much reduced string section, in a performance notable for its lightness, vigour and, in the second movement, lyrical warmth.
Two movements from Smetana's Má vlast followed the interval, marked by a vivid sense of instrumental colour and attention to detail, especially in the woodwind. In Vltava the moonlight episode had a engaging silvery tranquillity, while the St John's Rapids section was particularly choppy, and that same kind of punchy energy informed a barn-storming account of Sarka that became positively vicious (in the right places).
Pietari Inkinen. Photo © Tanja Ahola
Sibelius' Seventh Symphony ended the concert in a majestic reading that moved from a measured opening through some skilfully negotiated transitions to a contained but powerful conclusion, with Inkinen's firm grasp of the music's direction always in evidence.
Copyright © 17 November 2007
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK
THE CBSO PLAYS ELGAR ON CD
ORAMO AND THE CBSO PLAY MAHLER
A CD OF MUSIC BY JOHN FOULDS FROM ORAMO AND THE CBSO
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA