Proceedings opened with the Double Concerto by Brahms with the solo lines taken by Alina Ibragimova (violin) and Jesper Svedberg (cello). Ms Ibragimova is noted as a high-octane player and she certainly lit up the stage on this welcome return visit to the BSO. The orchestra’s own cello master, Mr Svedberg, was by no means outshone, though, and the two paired with impressive energy, but also with delightfully chamber-like unanimity, to make the complex mix of violin and cello work in their collaboration.
From the start, they grasped the music by the throat, conveying grandeur as well as control. The touching romance of the slow movement charmed the audience and the rousing finale electrified the Hall. There was nothing heavy here, and with Brahms’ economical orchestration finessed by Mr Hasan, the effect was as if the concerto danced to the end rather than dashed or marched.
The soloists joined together for a charming encore: Sibelius’s pizzicato Raindrops. The real things were encountered by many on their way home later on.
Mahler’s First Symphony is certainly no mere student piece. It dives straight into the composer’s aim of containing the whole world. No easy task for conductor or players, then!
After the mysterious prelude, the first movement rose to a climax which took the breath away. The second movement zinged along, while the third was judged very neatly – neither dragging nor racing, but distinctly creepy in feel when needed.
The storms of the lengthy fourth movement, interspersed with moments of consoling respite, demanded pin-point reactions from the players. Mahler seems to be able to encompass every possible human feeling here, and to demand almost superhuman effort from the orchestra to achieve them all. The paeans of cascading brass at the end, as the horns stood to make their quite unmistakable proclamation, inspired a storm of cheering for a stunning and genuinely dazzling performance.
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