Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

Pan Parade Steel Band entertaining shoppers in Commercial Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland PPP-171119-160221006

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If the lean approach taken by conductor Kirill Karabits to Beethoven was going to come unstuck anywhere, it was in his sixth symphony, the Pastoral. But it didn’t.

Even with lithe tempi, unglamorised phrasing and sparing use of vibrato, this warmest of scores gleamed brightly from within, with keen balances ensuring clarity.

The scene by the brook zipped along without sounding rushed, the woodwind soloists seemingly having plenty of time to give character to the birdsong. The country gathering was fun, the storm electric and the finale exuberant.

Karabits certainly has a way of bringing fresh colour to the music he champions, with melodies floating on air.

The first-half performance of the Harold In Italy symphony by Berlioz was diminished by the pale and distinctly non-Byronic playing of viola soloist Ralf Ehlers. Efficiency is no substitute for expression.

But under the Ukrainian Karabits, the BSO brought bright, authentically French colour to the music, with outstandingly controlled brass. In the finale, the offstage playing of two violins and a cello was effective in the return of the pilgrims’ march.

MIKE ALLEN