Conductor Kirill Karabits did well to reverse the programmed order of Sibelius masterpieces in the concert’s second half.
Whereas the seventh symphony lacked some of its proper accumulative force in a performance that verged on rushing, the raw power of Tapiola - the Finnish composer’s evocation of his native forests - had a vivid, properly climactic sense of tall pines battered by icy winds.
Have the BSO strings ever sounded more potent? The cold snap of the brass, too, was irresistible, with trombones more focused than in their vital recurring role in the symphony.
There, the conductor seemed unduly anxious not to stretch the elastic of the single-movement structure to breaking point.
Have faith in Sibelius, maestro!
Opening the concert, three pieces from the same composer’s incidental music for Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, including the storm itself, had both delicacy and concentrated power.
The concert’s Nordic theme was maintained by Grieg’s piano concerto, played by Juha Pohjonen from Finland with not only freshness and clarity of phrasing but with an irresistible sense that he was breathing as one with the orchestra.