THE intended dedicatee of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto famously found it too difficult. James Ehnes, playing it with the BSO, seemed if anything to find it too easy – technically at least.
His mastery of both bowing and intonation was almost inhuman.
But what mattered most was that the Canadian’s expressiveness was utterly human, all the more potent for being a touch understated.
The orchestral playing under Yan Pascal Tortelier was generally tight, too, although just occasionally lacking a degree of abandon.
The programme began with a concert rarity, an interlude from Richard Strauss’s opera, Intermezzo. Called Dreaming By The Fireside, it inevitably lost something by being taken out of context, but deserved its introduction to a wider audience – and its lustrous tones were an apt precursor to the Balcony Scene in Prokofiev’s Romeo And Juliet ballet music at the end of the programme.
Here the other hot-spot was Dance With Mandolins in which two players of that instrument were joined in turn by four trumpets, solo clarinet and pizzicato strings to ever-more-dizzying effect.
Elsewhere the BSO blazed boldly through the discordant sections but did not quite capture all the trenchancy that might be expected under certain Russian (or Ukrainian) conductors.