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
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...