Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Portsmouth Guildhall, REVIEW: ‘Technical brilliance and searing emotional intensity’

Picture: Kevin Clifford
Picture: Kevin Clifford
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Echoes of Home was the theme for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Portsmouth Guildhall Concert, which was conducted by Jamie Phillips.

The opening work was Smetana's symphonic poem Vltava, the second of six works in the collection Má Vlast ('My Homeland').

It portrays the flowing of the river Vltava (Moldau in German) north from his homeland Bohemia up to Prague.

 It starts with a charming gentle flowing of two interleaving flutes with harp and violin pizzicato which grows in orchestration up to the main theme; references to episodes in Czech history, legend and culture follow.

It climaxes with the broad flow of the river having arrived at Prague, and ends with the theme from Vyšehrad, the first poem of Má Vlast.

Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No1 in Bb minor completed the first half.

Russian soloist Denis Kozhukhin gave a superb performance combining great power and virility as befitting his strikingly Viking appearance, along with musicality and subtlety all delivered with consummate technical ease. The first movement cadenza was notably dramatic and poetic. The ending to the final movement was particularly splendid.

The final work was Symphony No 1 in E minor by Sibelius in which conductor Jamie Phillips showed considerable energy and control. The moody opening with an extended plaintive clarinet solo, initially over a subdued timpani roll, lead in typical Sibelius manner through numerous climaxes with prominent brass, cymbals and timpani.

The melancholy slow movement reminiscent of late Tchaikovsky was beautifully realised. The scherzo was rhythmically taut and boisterous with considerable verve.

The finale was played with technical brilliance and searing emotional intensity.