There was nothing in the least staid and conventionally English in this celebration of exuberant Latin music by the BSO in Poole Lighthouse on Wednesday. Led by great friend of the orchestra, Carlos Miguel Prieto, the Dorset band swung elegantly into the Mexican rhythms of Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No 2, which gloried in a hectic collision between the classical orchestra and Cuban dance.
Yet this was just a warm up for the first Poole appearance of the BSO Artist in Residence this season. The extravagantly talented Venezuelan piano sensation, Gabriela Montero, performed her own Piano Concerto No 1 ‘Latin’. Although full of South American inspired rhythms, this is a closely argued piece of music which thrilled and moved with its flow of deeply involving melody as well as its sparkling brilliance. The concluding Allegro Venezolano was packed with virtuoso effects – and not just for the soloist. Mr Prieto was in vital form, holding the reins clearly but not too tightly.
As was keenly anticipated, Ms Montero, who is such a great communicator, asked the audience for a tune to improvise upon. A voice from the stalls suggested Amazing Grace, and she gave this the full-scale romantic treatment, and then followed with the Chopin she had suggested as an alternative in the first place – soft, elegant and beautiful.
After the interval, Spanish dance was to the fore with Manuel de Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat. This is a ballet score, yet with playing of the BSO’s imagination and colour the music alone was able to tell its vivid story, flavoured by vocal contributions from the impressive Canadian-Tunisian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb. A magical Mexican full-orchestra encore rounded off the evening.
There are nights for the grave, sober and restrained, but this was not one of them. It was a time to revel in the excitement, passion and glamour top flight orchestral playing can create.