REVIEW: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

Pianist Sunwook Kim.
Pianist Sunwook Kim.

Enter the Theatre of Fear for a triumphant homecoming

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Here was a performance to suggest Walton’s first symphony does not just stand alongside Elgar’s pair and the pick of Vaughan Williams but stands apart as the Greatest British Symphony.

Kirill Karabits, the BSO’s Ukrainian chief conductor, inspired an insistent sense of nervous energy in the first movement, and the orchestra found impressive light and shade in the scherzo.

Flutes achieved cool sensuousness in the profoundly melancholy andante, and Karabits held the finale together firmly, particularly in a tight fugue.

Triumph was sealed in a blaze of brass, with two timpanists vying to silence each other - a visual element no hi-fi can reproduce.

Sunwook Kim was a masterly, musicianly soloist in Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto. No empty crash-bang-wallop from him but an ability to shift from fantasy to fireworks and back in a gasp.

His engagement with superb BSO soloists on flute, oboe and cello typified his sense of teamwork, but he dominated when the music demanded it.

The concert began with the Taras Bulba overture by Ukrainian Mikolay Lysenko, new to me. It begins in rich, dark, brooding, romantic style but scarcely builds on that promise.