The Fourth Symphony is probably the best introduction to the music of Mahler, with its rich abundance of melody and distinctively colourful orchestration.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra brought it to the Guildhall with principal conductor Kirill Karabits, in a performance which brought out these prominent strengths, thanks to some really splendid orchestral playing.
The finale of this wonderful symphony is actually a song, which was idiomatically performed here by soprano Catherine Foster, and in fact was the starting point for Mahler’s whole concept.
No wonder then that the symphony is so tuneful – the orchestral leader, Amyn Merchant, gave a particularly effective rendition of his solo part in the second movement scherzo, changing his instrument to one tuned differently so that the image of ‘the devil’s violin’ could make its mark.
All of the orchestral sections had their chance to shine, thanks to the composer’s extraordinary imagination. It’s no wonder that Karabits made a point of going through the different groupings of musicians in the ovations that followed, as if to emphasise this.
The first half of the concert featured another Fourth symphony – this time it was Schubert’s, to which maestro Karabits brought a typically fresh approach.