So how does she get on with Britain's best orchestra, the London Symphony? Alsop has, in fact, worked regularly for a while now with both the LSO and the London Philharmonic, and the way in which she immediately got down to business suggested a rapport based on mutual respect and a real enjoyment in working together.
Brahms's Tragic Overture made for an incisive opener, especially in the string section - the LSO's greatest strength (just as it is Bournemouth's weakness). Alsop is one of the serious groaners among conductors, but that scarcely matters in the face of such genuinely energetic musicality.
Known for her association with Leonard Bernstein, Alsop appropriately brought a Bernstein rarity to this programme. His Serenade after Plato's Symposium has rather convoluted programmatic origins in Plato, here provoking one of Alsop's typically engaging and witty podium talks, complete with orchestral illustrations. The Serenade combines glitz with sinewy, sometimes Stravinskian moments, especially when the solo violin interacts with lower strings. James Ehnes, the Canadian wonderboy of the fiddle, was suitably virtuosic but never overly showy, affected or cloying.
It was, however, Alsop's account of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique symphony that made the evening. Despite more than one serious fluff from the horns (even the LSO isn't perfect), the performance managed to combine symphonic momentum, atmosphere, passion and a scrupulous attention to dynamics and orchestral balance. It was especially notable for the ravishing and, occasionally, appropriately raw timbres Alsop conjured - from the burnished violas, and vibrant, edgy cello sound in the first movement, to the low snarl of horns and the buzzy, desolate cellos and double basses at the tragic close.Reuse content