Unmistakable Voices, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, review: ‘in their element, fully rising to the challenge’

Kirill Karabits celebrates his 10th year as conductor for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in their 2018/19 season. Picture by Eric Richmond
Kirill Karabits celebrates his 10th year as conductor for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in their 2018/19 season. Picture by Eric Richmond

Unmistakable voices was Thursday's concert at Portsmouth Guildhall by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kirill Karabits, featuring Signature Sounds of the 20th century.

The opening work was Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, an eight movement work for small orchestra written in neo-classical style which premiered in 1922, distilled from his one act 1920 ballet of the same name. With tunes borrowed most notably from Pergolesi, it showcases the wind and brass principals in his recognisably spiky manner. One highlight of many was the movement marked 'Vivo' in which double bass solo is added to trumpet and trombone.

As a complete contrast, an orchestral atmosphere of Mediterranean warmth by an Englishman abroad came next with William Walton's Cello Concerto, a more mellow, mid-career work written on the island of Ischia in 1956. The soloist was German-Canadian Johannes Moser, this season's BSO Artist-in-Residence, who gave an authoritative and commanding performance with lyricism, passion and technical flamboyance, projecting well against a fuller orchestral backdrop. His encore Sarabande from Bach's Cello Suite No3, was cool, thoughtful and eloquent.

The second half of the concert was Symphony No1 in F minor by Shostakovich, written in 1926 as a graduation piece aged 19 while at Leningrad Conservatory . An audacious, tuneful and filmic work with popular appeal, it is scored using a full orchestra and clearly shows the style which carries through to his later works. Karabits and the BSO were in their element, fully rising to the challenge.

As a final encore the BSO played Shostakovich's humorously lightweight Tahiti Trot, based on the well-known tune Tea for Two.