It has horns, swans, and one of the greatest finales of all time. But how do you start a concert when Sibelius’ Symphony No5 is the centrepiece?
In the case of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Sweeping Sibelius, it was by artful programming of two contrasting romantic works in the first half - Brahms’ Tragic Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No2.
Under the energetic and articulate direction of guest conductor James Feddeck, the powerful opening chords of the Brahms set the tone for the evening perfectly. This is an edge-of-your-seat piece that commands attention.
Russian pianist Alexei Volodin joined the orchestra for the Tchaikovsky. Volodin is a sensational soloist whose staggering technique and impeccable control dazzled in the first movement’s long cadenza. The venue’s acoustic occasionally made it difficult to hear the piano over the orchestra. However, the dynamic interplay between soloist, orchestra and conductor were much in evidence, especially in the exquisitely intimate chamber music of the Andante.
After the interval came Sibelius’ No5 in all its glory - from the fluttering strings of the first movement through to the famous ‘swan’ theme. And what finer way to end the evening than the six emphatic chords that bring this symphony to its dramatic close?