Though the BSO has hardly been quiet over the Christmas and New Year holidays, playing an impressive range of seasonal concerts, it was heartening and energising to be able to return to Lighthouse, Poole, whether in person or on line, for the start of the New Year season – 15 juicy-looking concerts which will take us all the way through to the eve of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in early June.
Beginning proceedings on a supremely melodic note, the orchestra was joined on Wednesday evening by virtuoso violinist Jack Liebeck, and by Kerem Hasan, the exciting and award-winning young British conductor making his debut with the BSO.
The concert started with a performance of Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, a thrilling sharpener for players and listeners alike. Hats off to principal clarinet Barry Deacon, especially.
The heart of the show, though, was a pair of romantic greats braced together like two halves of a gothic arch. Firstly, Mr Liebeck breathed fervour and warmth in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1. The passionate sections of the first movement were full of drama, but the ear was seduced by the luxurious tone of the adagio: it unfolded a stream of melody which proved a gift indeed. The contrasting encore was Melancholia from a sonata by Ysaӱe.
After the interval, watching and hearing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 also proved the value of live performance, which allowed the audience to revel in the composer’s rich orchestrations. Both clarinet and horn solos made a huge impression – especially Alexander Wide’s beautiful caressing of one of the most sublime horn themes in the whole orchestral repertoire: fully and genuinely dolce con molto espressivo.
Mr Hasan’s clarity of line in developing the climaxes of the last movement also meant that the performance grew to its ultimate peroration with a natural but unstoppable momentum.
Despite the glooms of January, and maybe especially this January, this whole evening made a very happy start to 2022.