Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra present Superhuman Strauss at Portsmouth Guildhall REVIEW

Pianist Andrew Tyson
Pianist Andrew Tyson
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The latest BSO concert at Portsmouth Guildhall, conducted by Karl-Heinz Steffens, was titled Superhuman Strauss.

The opening work was Leonore Overture No.3, written by Beethoven for his 'rescue' opera subsequently called Fidelio.

Described as a 'dramatic tone poem' that 'should never be allowed anywhere near (the opera)' by one commentator, it is now frequently performed as a successful concert overture rather than in the theatre. The mood changes from a dark opening to hope, announced by offstage trumpet followed by a flute solo, and ends in a superhuman triumph punctuated by brass.

The first half continued with Beethoven's C major piano concerto, published as No.1. Andrew Tyson as soloist had a striking stage presence with notable stillness at the keyboard, devoid of mannerism but producing a lovely quality of sound with crisp articulation, and robustly brought out the musical dramatic substance of the work with style and grace. The poetic slow movement featuring the clarinet, while reminiscent of Mozart, presaged later true romantic works. The Rondo finale gave an ebullient finish.

The soloist's encore was Domenico Scarlatti's Keyboard Sonata in D minor K9 which was a perfect follow-on from the concerto, and readily demonstrated his refined approach.

The concert concluded with Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, the opening of which is now commonly recognized from the soundtrack of the Stanley Kubrick film 2001 A Space Odyssey and later broadcasts of moon landings. The work takes it's title from Friedrich Nietzsche's novel of the same name, and traverses 15 section headings from the book's chapters, starting with Sunrise and ending with Song of the Night Wanderer. It presents an extended sequence of mood music intended to appeal to the emotions, using a much enlarged orchestra which filled the Guildhall stage.

A dramatic end to an impressive concert.