Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra: Czech Mates at Portsmouth Guildhall REVIEW: ‘A most persuasive performance’

Pianist Sunwook Kim
Pianist Sunwook Kim

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s latest concert was the last of the current season.

It featured two less well-known works by Dvořák and one by his son-in-law and former pupil Josef Suk. It was conducted by Kirill Karabits, now in his tenth year as chief conductor.

Fantastické Scherzo in G minor by Suk came first, an attractive, tuneful and light-hearted Bohemian outdoorsy piece with a quirky woodwind start written as a tribute to Dvořák, scored for standard orchestra plus cor anglais, bass clarinet and harp.

Dvořák's piano concerto completed the first half, a rarely performed work written in 1876, the first of three concerto works.

Soloist was Sunwook Kim, originally from South Korea, who won the Leeds International Piano Competition aged 18 in 2006.

He gave a most persuasive performance, direct and positive with wonderful touch and articulation producing beautiful legato phrasing, rhythmic staccato and drama. A cohesive partnership with Karabits and the BSO, and a memorable assertively energetic solo part to end.

The final work was Dvořák's 5th symphony in F major written in the summer one year before the piano concerto and five years before the 6th symphony which was the first to draw international attention. 

Regarded as a largely pastoral work, the first movement opens with a pastoral theme.  The second movement Andante con moto starts with an appealing cello melody. 

The scherzo movement which continues with almost no break, was one of the most enjoyable parts of the symphony with attractive woodwind writing all beautifully performed.

In the complex and dramatic finale which even includes a short bass clarinet solo, the BSO brass made the most of fanfares especially in trombones and horns.