Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, The Lighthouse, Poole
Sunday 09 October 2005
I hold little hope that I shall live to see the day when gender becomes an irrelevance in orchestral conducting. For this to happen would require a simultaneous blossoming of the careers of another dozen female conductors of similar talent. Meantime, Alsop consistently betters many of her male peers. In Poole, where she has renewed her contract to 2008, they are well aware that she is a musician of extraordinary distinction, imagination and authority, and her reception in The Lighthouse was of a fervour, intensity and duration normally associated with the Bartolis and Domingos of this world. In many ways this concert was a celebration of the relationship between Alsop and the BSO. Three years in, and allowing for technical shortcomings in some sections, it is a transformation similar to that achieved by Simon Rattle in Birmingham. The orchestra's profile has grown exponentially, their playing has been honed, and their emotional engagement with Alsop's clear-headed, immaculately conceived interpretation of "The Resurrection" was palpable.
Notwithstanding some slips from the trumpets, and an uncertain solo from violinist Duncan Riddell, this was a deeply affecting performance. The phrasing of the cellos and basses, who appear to enjoy the status of favoured children in this orchestral family, was exhilarating, the timpani a brilliantly characterful presence. Alsop has impeccable judgement: her tempi were perfect, her colours beautifully separated, her detailing vivid, her sense of scale and drama confident, her direction of Bournemouth's excellent chorus magical in "Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n", her sympathetic accompaniment of soloists Karen Cargill and Sally Matthews a cause to regret that she has shown little interest in establishing herself as a conductor of opera. As a symphonist, Alsop's stamina and expressivity are outstanding. Wickedly, I look forward to her eventual debut in this repertoire with the Vienna Philharmonic.
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