A conductor's life on the ocean wave

Classical; SEA MUSIC: CBSO/LSO SYMPHONY HALL BIRMINGHAM

A CONCERT of sea-music, without La Mer? Very possible, says the conductor Sakari Orano, whose forays into the English repertoire are winning him new friends in Birmingham - where the Finn stepped into Simon Rattle's shoes earlier this autumn.

Last month Orano was making waves with Bax's Tintagel; Elgar and Frank Bridge have just followed. It's surely just a matter of time before Bantock (another Birmingham leading light), Holbrooke and Rutland Boughton (Bax's most avid fellow-Arthurian) follow.

True, there was some paddling in Orano's watery soiree. The strings seemed oddly at sea at the launch of Mendelssohn's Hebrides overture; waves that should lap eddied, and at times the balance muddied. Yet the CBSO woodwind showed off the orchestra consistently at its best; clarinets and paired flutes, surfing above soupy strings, or scudding like fireflies amid the textures, brought a metronome precision. The woodwind chorus in "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" was a marvel, just as the CBSO brass dazzled in the descending flurries of Britten's Four Sea Interludes, nicely approached by Orano, whose gambled slow pacing of No 3 ("Moonlight") overtly paid off.

The CBSO strings struck out with more elan in the forcible tutti, and in some exposed passages; fine breast-stroke from the double basses and forward-placed cellos, and an exquisite upsurging passage for violas in the opening to Bridge's The Sea, a massive, four-movement tone poem, akin as much to Scriabin as to Debussy; a gripping, tautly argued masterpiece from that fertile era just before the First World War. A superb CBSO team effort, well worth EMI recording. The mezzo-soprano Fredrika Brillembourg brought a heroic textual memory to Elgar's Sea Pictures, and a charming, if slightly didactic, delivery - albeit shorn of the subtle rubati that can make even limp Victoriana bloom. Aquaceous Elgar cries out for more bosom.

Earlier in the week, amazingly, Symphony Hall had its first taste of Sir Colin Davis. Elgar again was the fare, and the effect was electric. With the opening bars the LSO's meticulously short-bowed string precision gave Dresden, Berlin and Chicago all a run for their money. The scherzo from Mendelssohn's Octet emerged exactly as marked - leggierissimo - and even though 60 strings were beavering away, it still sounded like chamber music.

The LSO's Leningrad-born leader, Alexander Barantschik, and superbly empathic principal cello, Tim Hugh, were the soloists in Brahms's late- flowering Double Concerto. Chalk and cheese, the one sweet and succulent, the other earnest and responsive, an apt dialogue, if you go with the story that the two instruments ape the recently reconciled Brahms and Joachim.

And Elgar's First Symphony had the audience on the edge of its seats. Davis's way of playing the long waiting-game - his handling of organic growth, his slow ratcheting up of dynamic beat - ranks in a class of its own. The wisdom of old age, you might say - except that three decades ago the young Davis could do just that. He thrilled then, and he still does now.

Roderic Dunnett

Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss