What better way to open the Festival of Chichester than with a carnival – and what better than Dvorak’s Carnival Overture?
The exuberant opening instantly proved that the BSO is not only the world’s favourite orchestra (according to an online poll) but one of the most adaptable, as the players seemed to adjust more effectively than most to the cathedral’s resonant acoustics.
Under Dutch conductor Jac van Steen, the Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Mendelssohn was delivered with utmost delicacy and a gorgeous horn solo before Jack Liebeck played the same composer’s Violin Concerto. He attacked the opening allegro with all the passion the composer demanded, but also relished the songfulness of the slow movement and the finale’s fairylike dancing.
If the orchestra’s response to the acoustics fell short anywhere, it was in the slow movement of Brahms’s fourth symphony where the horns sounded over-emphatic.
Yet this seemed to fit the conductor’s conception of the work as one of rugged strength.
And this view gained weight as the variation-structure of the finale unfolded with irresistible force.