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
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
- 1 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 3 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 4 Nicki Minaj finally releases predictable 'Anaconda' video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...