Can there be a more riveting cellist, to watch and hear, than Steven Isserlis?
His floppy mop of curls is grey now but he brought vivid colours as well as deep, measured feeling to Haydn’s Concerto in D major with the BSO.
His performance was affectionate throughout, yet never overloaded. He seemed somehow not merely to play his cello but to caress its strings in the adagio, and then made the finale dance in preparation for the coup de theatre with horns and oboes standing for the closing bars.
As usual, BSO principal conductor Kirill Karabits achieved a rare combination of freshness and authentic style – not only in Haydn but in Prokofiev’s Sinfonietta and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7.
Prokofiev’s rhythms brimmed with life and his textures were bright with colour, making the performance witty, perky and fun. The Beethoven had energy pulsing through it, even in a serious-minded allegretto. At a time when excellence seems rare, Portsmouth is blessed with plenty from the BSO.