A gathering of friends old and new brought a wonderful evening of music making to Poole Lighthouse on Wednesday as part of the BSO’s 2022/2023 season.
Top billing might go to James Ehnes, one of the most inspiring violinists of the age and a very welcome figure here in the southwest. Try listening to his highly recommended recordings of the Britten and Shostakovich violin concertos with the BSO (Onyx 4113).
But tonight he played Prokofiev’s Second Concerto, a work full of ravishing themes, as well as unsettled, questing passages. Making sense of this requires mind and heart, as well as connection with the orchestra – fortunately all qualities for which Mr Ehnes is famed. His encore – Paganini’s 16th Caprice – was astonishingly virtuosic.
Equally, top billing might go to the award-winning Polish conductor, making her debut with the BSO, Anna Sułkowska-Migoń. Dynamic and demonstrative on the platform, she not only led the music, but appeared to enjoy every moment of doing so.
Her opening work was the overture to Der Freischütz by Weber, ten minutes of vivid scene painting by the orchestra.
After the interval it was time for Brahms’ First Symphony – mighty indeed! The BSO and Ms Sułkowska-Migoń reminded us of the dark drama of the opening and emphasised the melancholy feeling of the slow movement while keeping the action moving along. The Allegretto matched agitation with charm before the finale led up to the release of the big tune that Brahms was evidently waiting years to find and then to place at the summit of this symphony. The final pages crowned a grand performance of this monumental work which was met with huge enthusiasm.
The BSO has the reputation of being a friendly orchestra, both for visiting artists and for its lucky audiences. The fruits of this approach were powerfully on show tonight.
This concert is available to catch up on until 28 April here