Regular Guildhall concert-goers know what to expect when Andrew Litton conducts music by Rachmaninov – big, lush and romantic. But his Sibelius is less familiar.
In the event, Litton did occasionally over-dramatise the Finnish composer’s enigmatic sixth symphony, but he commendably refused to compromise on the abrupt endings to the first three movements and the music was generally played with proper purity of tone as well as immense strength when required.
Overall, the performance was powerfully persuasive – so how about the seventh symphony next season, from either Litton or principal conductor Kirill Karabits? Please?
The Rachmaninov here was his third piano concerto, with Canadian Jon Kimura Parker a technically commanding soloist although not the most subtle of keyboard artists.
He and Litton seemed well-matched in a big-boned performance where the BSO strings generated properly romantic heat, woodwinds chorused eloquently and brass punched their full weight.
The concert began with Grieg’s Symphonic Dances – mostly rumbustious stuff but with outstandingly plaintive oboe solos.
Indeed the orchestra generally has begun the season in strong form.