‘Black and White’ highlighted this as an evening which revealed contrasting facets, almost different identities, of the classical symphony orchestra.
Under the command of Maestro Karabits, the first half, featuring Sibelius – his Symphony 7 and his Violin Concerto with Valeriy Sokolov making a happy return visit – provided moments of majestic strength and rich beauty. Opening the evening with the intense Symphony 7 gave the impression of diving into the deep end of experience with an unbroken flow of musical grandeur.
Mr Sokolov, who clearly enjoys a close rapport with the Chief Conductor, presented a performance of the Concerto of remarkable focus and concentration. It served vividly to express the depth and range of human existence.
After this totally involving first half, many in the Lighthouse Concert Hall were not quite sure what to expect from John Adams’ 2009 three-movement symphonic work, City Noir. The work was written about (and for) Los Angeles and is inspired by the aesthetic of the melodramatic Film Noir movies of the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Adams seems to invite the audience to imagine their own film to which this work is the sound track. The air is full of energy and violence, yet with lyrical interludes, in a seething, heated city night. There may be love scenes, but also shootings, car chases and a train ride, each vividly imagined in a sequence of extraordinary orchestrations.
City Noir proved a dazzling work – and earned a dazzling performance. There were too many brilliant solo instrumental moments to list individually, but they added up to a picture of virtuoso orchestral playing of the highest order from the ever adventurous BSO.
At the end of the interval, Chief Executive Dougie Scarfe made a presentation to David Kenihan, marking his retirement after a distinguished 28 years’ service in the double basses.