Any notion of Brahms as a creator of fat sounds and turgid textures was gloriously dismissed by the BSO and conductor Kirill Karabits in the opening concert of the 2014-15 Guildhall season.
The German composer was 43 when he completed his first symphony, but no-one hearing this performance can have thought of it as the work of anyone other than a young lion of music.
Even from the portentous opening, the music brimmed with energy. Woodwind soloists found poetry everywhere, and in the finale the horn section led by Nicolas Fleury blazed like a whole battalion of suns. This would have been just about perfect if only Karabits had not broadened the tempo for the return of the trombones’ chorale near the end of the finale – although nothing like as grossly as many conductors do.
The programme’s other main work was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1. Here American soloist Robert Levin veered between poetry (in the largo) and an idiosyncrasy in both attack and phrasing that bordered on the bizarre. Never dull, but unconvincing. MIKE ALLEN