First Night: A fine start to Finnish career
CBSO Sakari Oramo
Friday 25 September 1998
Sibelius's Bard (dating from 1912) is a silent sage, a miracle of under-statement, like his Fourth Symphony of the same period.
The harp (played with feeling and insight by Robert Johnstone) has a key role; it ventures out alone into the Nordic night while the strings grope around in a still wilderness which makes way, ultimately for an unforeseen burst of brass.
Yet unlike in Karelia or Finlandia, it is not the brass which supplies the climax. The climax is the whole - the long, mesmerising stillness of it all. This is the stuff that dreams are made on.
Henri Dutilleux composed his violin concerto L'Arbre des Songes at the age of nearly 70. Together, Oramo and his soloist Olivier Charlier showed that his brand of late flowering Romanticism can provide a concerto to set beside Barber and Korngold. It is a luscious piece, with its bursts of chordal Messiaen, exquisite links for clarinet, percussion and piano.
And so to Mahler. It was Kubelik's version that I (like many others) was brought up on, and Oramo brought that version, with its Classical directness and unostentatious sense of build-up, strangely to mind.
This was truly exciting Mahler, packed with tension, its more vicious junctures superbly punched out by thrusting solo clarinet (Colin Parr); rhythmically assured and beautifully controlled the moment in the scherzo where flutes and violas scuttle away like a babbling brook out of Beethoven, or the extraordinary momentwhen sanity is restored by harp and solo flute.
This was top drawer stuff. Birmingham has found a top drawer principal conductor.
Life & Style blogs
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time: 10 worst gadgets of recent times
Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
The secret to a great sex life revealed: Two cups of coffee a day
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Teenager tries to buy elderly homeless man breakfast at McDonald's but is told homeless people cannot be served under 'new policy'
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
- 1 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
- 2 Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
- 3 Picture of couple posing with beached dolphin 'that later died' causes outrage
- 4 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
- 5 Witch doctor arrested after forcing newborn baby to walk in Indian village
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...