Bavarian Radio So And Chorus / Jansons, Philharmonie, Munich

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The Independent Culture

With Jansons as helmsman, still waters and seductive journeys lie ahead for this exciting orchestra. Certainly, the mysterious, serene chords heralding Beethoven's Goethe setting "Calm Sea And Prosperous Voyage", coaxed by Jansons from the hushed Bavarian Radio Choir, yielded as rapt an experience as the Prisoners' Chorus from Fidelio.

If the first half anticipates Mendelssohn and Schumann, the second could be by no one but Beethoven. After a thrilling launch ("Die Nebel zerreissen"), the choir's counterpoint was as keen as quicksilver. On arrival, this ship slips effortlessly into port: Beethoven's movement exits in a flash - just as it appeared.

Jansons' soloist in Sibelius's Violin Concerto was the beguiling Chloë Hanslip, a sizzling young product of the Yehudi Menuhin School. Hanslip produces a full-blooded sound: her wide-spaced vibrato and powerful resonances rendered her an expressive, idiosyncratic advocate of the Sibelius: intense, passionate, not without a cheeky waywardness. Her dazzling technical proficiency made sparks fly in the finale. Hanslip's high spirits whipped you along: tussling with tympani and bassoon, teasing out the allegro's long-lined big tune, slyly echoing herself in the adagio, or sweeping up to laughing harmonics in the finale, she delighted the Munich audience.

Key orchestral detail - paired clarinets, vital pizzicato from violas and cellos launching the adagio, and the perfectly phased build-up before the end - spoke volumes for Jansons' total command of his players.

The same quality was apparent in a riveting account of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony: in the allegro's dying embers; full-bowed low strings launching the allegretto; ironic cavortings of flute and violin, and the comically clumsy attempts of the orchestra to keep up; or the fabulously phased growth of the aching largo. The BRSO's sound is not as homogeneous as some German outfits; but it breathes fire from its belly.