Perhaps because the BSO routinely plays in a wide variety of venues, no orchestra is more versatile in adapting to different acoustics.
Certainly, even the busiest textures of Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony sounded remarkably clear from Chichester Cathedral’s row N.
Maxime Tortelier deserves some of the credit for that: he has grown in confidence and authority since he began his spell as the orchestra’s young conductor in association a year ago.
The programme began with an atmospheric but clear-sighted account of the Karelia Suite by Sibelius before Timothy Orpen proved himself a musician with a big future as soloist in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.
The adagio ‘sang’ like an operatic aria and the outer movements brimmed with a blend of technical virtuosity and varied expressiveness.
Tortelier set fierce tempi in the final two movements of the Tchaikovsky symphony, although not too fierce for pizzicato strings in the scherzo, but also shaped the characteristic Russian melodies with feeling, allowing soloists such as the masterly Edward Kay (oboe) also to express themselves freely.
The BSO begins its Portsmouth Guildhall season with Kirill Karabits conducting music by Wagner and Rachmaninov on October 11.