Music’s beautiful abstraction, mined here with such control by the BSO under Carlos Miguel Prieto, suggests sounds can tell us one thing, implication suggest another, while the ultimate sense conveys something else again.
Elgar’s weighty and introspective Violin Concerto was performed by Ning Feng, whose remarkable technique showed no hint of stress in this massively demanding work. The magic, though, was in the details which illustrated the moods of regret and nostalgia, the love and the longing, interspersed by ardent outpourings, which brought this concerto to life.
The listener has to pay close attention in order to notice the fleeting moods of the work and make sense of them all. The orchestra made this easy with playing of astonishing beauty from all sections, but also of romantic fire when it was needed to keep the sense moving along. The feeling of immediacy in the Poole Lighthouse’s Concert Hall was palpable. By the time of the yearning last movement cadenza, Elgar’s outpouring had indeed almost revealed too much. The final gallop to the end suggested a very English embarrassment at ever having felt such emotions. Ning Feng’s twinkling encore, Memories of the Alhambra, made a knowing reference to Elgar’s Spanish inscription at the head of the score.
After the interval, Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony was given a challenging performance. “I wanted to convey in it the moods of spring, joy, youth,” the composer allegedly commented regarding this symphony. Well not really! After the dark, brooding opening movement, which drew stunning string and woodwind playing from the BSO, the two short last movements emphasised the composer’s sardonic cocking a snook at the Soviet authorities. The dance was definitely infused with rage in Mr Prieto’s interpretation, rather than sunny frolics in Poole Park. The orchestra responded to this with relish and vigour, making a potent impression.
This concert had opened with Richard Strauss’s Träumerei am Kamin – in contrast to what followed it was a sweetly dreaming evocation of a lovely winter scene. But also a great preparation for the opening of some seriously passionate floodgates, whatever you made of the resulting deluge.