In concert: Steven Isserlis, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Maxim Emelyanychev – Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto no.1 & ‘Organ’ Symphony

Saint-Saëns
Phaéton Op.39 (1873)
Cello Concerto no.1 in A minor Op.33 (1873)
Danse macabre Op.40 (1874)
Symphony no.3 in C minor Op.78 ‘Organ’ (1885-6)

Steven Isserlis (cello, below), Matthew Truscott (violin), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Maxim Emelyanychev (above)

Royal Festival Hall, London
Thursday 26 January 2023

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood Steven Isserlis picture (c) Satoshi Aoyagi

Top marks to the planning team of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, for scheduling a night of Saint-Saëns in January! They chose a rousing quartet of works as part of the orchestra’s Sounds For The End Of A Century series, in what may have been a first live encounter for the orchestra with the French composer’s music.

They were matched with a suitably dynamic conductor, Maxim Emelyanychev throwing heart and soul into the music as we explored numerous links between Saint-Saëns and Liszt. This was done through a pair of symphonic dramas, one to open each half, the Cello Concerto no.1 and the Symphony no.3, the Organ, dedicated to Liszt himself.

The first drama told the story of Phaéton. Drawn from Greek mythology, it tells how the child of sun god Helios drives his chariot recklessly across the sky – from which he is felled by Jupiter’s lightning bolt. The action was thrillingly conveyed here, the vehicle veering wildly from the start in the quickfire violin lines. The warm second theme offered a little respite but all too quickly the thunderbolt arrived, delivered with maximum drama by three timpanists, Adrian Bending, Florie Fazio and Tom Hunter.

The second drama was Danse macabre, originally a song but now a seasoned favourite in its orchestral guise. The devilish solo violin role was taken up by orchestra leader Matthew Truscott with some relish, playing with vigour from his position just behind the woodwind. Emelyanychev’s pacing was ideal, and while the dance initially felt a little soft it transpired he had been saving the full fury of the orchestra for the final rendering of the theme, unleashed in a thoroughly satisfying blast.

Steven Isserlis joined the notably reduced orchestral forces for the Cello Concerto no.1, another popular piece full of melody and incident. Isserlis has championed the music of Saint-Saëns throughout his career, and this performance found him in his element, lovingly attending to the tender second theme of the first movement and the opulent Allegretto, while fully opening up to the virtuoso demands of the outer sections. Dialogue with the orchestra was brisk and full of smiles, while the structure of the concerto – a single movement in line with the piano concertos of Liszt – was expertly handled in league with Emelyanychev.

As a thoughtful encore Isserlis marked what would have been the 78th birthday of Jacqueline du Pré, choosing the most appropriate encore – The Swan from Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals. Accompanied by Emelyanychev on the orchestra piano, the cellist gave a serene yet searching account.

Finally we had the rare chance to hear the Organ Symphony in period instrument guise, with a blast from the Royal Festival Hall organ and James McVinnie. While the third is by some distance Saint-Saëns’ most popular symphony, it should be noted that a concert of either the fine Symphony no.2 or the work titled Urbs Roma would not go amiss before too long.

Here, however, was a piece written in dedication to Liszt at the surprising invitation from the Royal Philharmonic Society, and premiered at the long-demolished St James’s Hall near Piccadilly in London. It is easy to forget just how original a piece this is, with a large orchestra including not just organ but a piano (with two pianists), two harps and more. There is also an impressive resourcefulness on the part of the composer with his thematic material, which Emelyanychev took the chance to illustrate throughout.

The nervy first movement harked back to the motion of Phaéton’s chariot, albeit now riddled with anxiety, its syncopated nature leaving room for doubt. Consolation was on hand in the form of the substantial section marked Poco adagio, a noble utterance whose poise unexpectedly anticipates Elgar in style. The entrance of the organist here was expertly handled by McVinnie, whose familiarity with the Royal Festival Hall instrument enabled him to achieve an ideal balance with the orchestra. He did this through some wholly rewarding registration choices.

As a consequence the slow movement was deeply emotional, its quiet moments accentuated by Emelyanychev and the soft strings, played with little vibrato. The hurried Scherzo was a vivid contrast to this, and brilliantly played, before the doors were flung open for the famous finale.

McVinnie led with authority, securing a lovely, grainy sound from his instrument for the thunderous C major chord at the start. The two pianists, playing what seemed to be a modern instrument, caressed the upper reaches of the texture with delicate arpeggios. Emelyanychev steered clear of sentimentality in his interpretation, a move which actually heightened the impact of the piece and carried us to a thrilling conclusion.

A blast of C major to see January into the long grass was most welcome – what more could a concert goer want?!

You can read all about the 2022/23 season and book tickets at the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment website.

Online concert – Steven Isserlis & Connie Shih mark the centenary of Saint-Saëns @ Wigmore Hall

steven-isserlis

Saint-Saëns Cello Sonata no.1 in C minor Op.32 (1872)
Liszt Romance oubliée S132 (1880)
Fauré Romance Op.69 (1894)
Saint-Saëns Romance in F major Op.36 (1874)
Bizet arr. Hollman Carmen fantaisie (not known)
Willaume La noce bretonne Op.14 (pub. 1924)
Holmès arr. Isserlis Noël d’Irlande (1897)
Hahn 2 improvisations sur des airs irlandais (1894 rev. 1911)
Saint-Saëns Cello Sonata no.2 in F major Op.123 (1905)

Steven Isserlis (cello, above), Connie Shih (piano, below)

Wigmore Hall, London
Thursday 16 December 2021

Written by Ben Hogwood

This well-devised program to mark the centenary of the death of Saint-Saëns was put together by cellist Steven Isserlis and his regular partner, pianist Connie Shih. They presented the composer’s two cello sonatas, the first of which was recorded by Isserlis back in 1992, in an intriguing historical context.

There is no room for shrinking violets in the first movement of the Cello Sonata no.1 in C minor Op.32, a relatively early work, and both performers threw themselves headlong into the music. Saint-Saëns was a virtuoso pianist, and on occasion his writing for the instrument is as demanding if not more so than the instrument it is ‘accompanying’. Here however the two were on equal terms, with plenty of cut and thrust in a dramatic first movement. The C minor casting and stormy start draw parallels with Beethoven, and these were built upon in the players’ compelling dialogue. The improvisatory slow movement was ideally poised, with an air of mystery in its central section where the cello was in its lowest register, complemented by twinkling figures from the piano. The Allegro moderato third movement returned us to powerful, passionate music, Isserlis’ double stopping passages immaculately delivered and Shih finding the necessary definition and phrasing in a superbly played piano part.

A full 32 years elapsed between the first sonata and its sequel, the Cello Sonata no.2 in F major Op.123. By this time the 70 year-old composer’s style had developed considerably. It is a substantial piece, running over 35 minutes, and is perhaps less-performed on that basis, not to mention the demands made on the performers. Isserlis and Shih showed what a fine work it is, however, in a performance that was gripping from the off, full of passion but also finding the more elusive statements in the quieter music, where Saint-Saëns could be found writing subtle but far-reaching sleights of harmony.

A joyous opening paragraph surged forward with considerable energy, powering an impressive and flowing first movement, Shih harnessing the power of the piano but continuing to hold a sensitive balance. She led off a capricious scherzo, whose variations were brilliantly characterized, from a limpid third variation (marked Tranquille) to a rippling Molto allegro that followed.

The heart of the piece, however, lies in the substantial Romance, a dreamy slow movement with a beautiful melody and a profound middle section turning towards the minor key. Both played with poise and affection, finding the centre of music the audience could fully lose themselves in. The last movement, which the composer promised ‘will wake anyone who’s slept through the rest of the piece’, was terrific, working from its deceptively innocuous opening phrase to throw off the shackles and end in celebratory mood. Isserlis was typically generous with his expression, with Shih deserving credit for her technical command and shapely melodic phrasing. The octaves towards the end were especially well-handled.

While the two sonatas were the main works of the concert, the complementary pieces were no less involving, providing an ideal foil. Firstly we heard from Saint-Saëns’ close friend Liszt, one of his few works for cello and piano. The Romance oubliée began with a recitative, with beautiful tone in the held notes from the cello, setting the (intense) mood. Then another great friend (and pupil), Fauré – whose Romance uses the whole range of the cello, starting in the mysterious depths and ending in the rarefied upper register. Saint-Saens’ own warm-hearted Romance in F major Op.36 was affectionately recounted, before the showstopping Carmen fantasie from Saint-Saëns’ friend and regular recital partner, Joseph Hollman. This was a showstopper, with quickfire dances and a pizzicato Habanera, stylishly done by Isserlis.

Shorter pieces followed from Gabriel Willaume, Reynaldo Hahn and Augusta Holmès, each with fascinating connections to the composer. Willaume’s La noce bretonne (The Breton wedding) was rather moving, its distant drone growing in feeling and power before passing by and disappearing again. Hahn’s 2 improvisations were songlike and affecting in their simplicity, a soulful Willow Tree especially, before an arrangement by Isserlis of Holmès song Noël d’Irlande, its pentatonic language easy to absorb.

This was a very fine concert, with playing of an exceptionally high standard by both artists, but crucially with the involvement that told us how Saint-Saëns, in particular, could combine virtuosity with deep feeling, contrary to some opinion. It is hard to imagine how his centenary could have been better observed – and it ended with a perfectly weighted account of The Swan, one of his most famous shorter pieces – taken as it is from Carnival of the Animals. Isserlis needed only to introduce it with a wave of the hand.

You can watch this concert on the Wigmore Hall website for the next 28 days – and you can hear most of the music played by Isserlis and Shih on the Spotify playlist below, with some of the recordings drawn from their recent album Music from Proust’s Salons. That disc can be heard (and purchased) from the BIS website

In concert – Oxford Lieder Festival celebrates Saint-Saëns with Elizabeth Watts, Victor Sicard & Anna Cardona, Fenella Humphreys & Martin Roscoe, Adèle Charvet & Anne Le Bozec

Various venues in Oxford, Saturday 9 October. Artists as listed below

Written by Ben Hogwood from online streams

The Oxford Lieder festival is into its 20th year, a cause for celebration indeed. It has become one of the UK’s finest classical music events, lovingly curated and produced but gathering increasing levels of enthusiasm every year.

The 2021 model is ideally weighted, with live music events streamed and recorded for posterity – an ideally weighted dual approach in these uncertain times. Titled Nature’s Songbook, it has set aside days for anniversary composers Saint-Saëns (100 years since his death) and the lesser-heard Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar (150 years since his birth)

Saint-Saëns had his day on the Saturday, offering audiences a chance to appreciate his under-heard Mélodies in the context of better-known chamber and stage works, not to mention works by pupils and contemporaries. Baritone Victor Sicard & pianist Anna Cardona (above) were on first, the 2011 winners of the festival’s Young Artists Platform giving a recital from the ideal acoustic Saint John the Evangelist.

They began with a pupil and close friend of the featured composer. Gabriel Fauré was to become one of the very finest French composers of the 20th century, his output headed but not restricted to sublime contributions in the world of chamber music, piano and song. We heard his first published song cycle Poème d’un jour Op.21, a brief affair – which is ironic, since the subject of Charles Grandmougin’s verse was exactly that. Sicard found his feet in the slightly sorrowful first song, with an easily flowing piano part from Cardona. There was strength of character in the second, and wistfulness in the third as the day-long love affair fizzled out.

Saint-Saëns melodies followed and – as is often the case with this composer – hit the mark immediately. The attractive La Brise was secured by a rustic drone from Sicard’s left hand, which also gave its urgency to the next song. Emotionally the heart of this selection lay in La splendeur vide Op.26/2, which was followed by the Danse macabre, Saint-Saëns working with inner resolve. Perhaps it lacked a little edginess but a really strong connection between the two was clear.

Fauré’s pupil Ravel was next, and Sicard found the exquisite, timeless quality of Kaddisch, its melodic inflections beautifully expressed and contrasting with the questioning L’Énigme Éternelle. Following this was Histoires Naturelles, the ideal choice given the festival’s theme. Cardona had a strong descriptive role to play, with some lovely detail portraying Crickets, and The Swan too, which had strong characterisation. The Guinea Fowl’s ‘rowdy and shrill’ ending was perfectly judged by the pair – as was an exquisite encore of Chanson française.

Later we further examined the link between teacher and student in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, as violinist Fenella Humphreys and pianist Martin Roscoe played sonatas by Saint-Saens and Faure. In an aside to the audience, Humphreys revealed it was the first time the duo had performed the Saint-Saens Violin Sonata no.1 in D minor Op.75 (1885), realising a long-held dream of playing a work in public she had loved since childhood.

The closer acoustics of the hall took a little while to adjust to – certainly on the live stream – but it was easy to admire the duo as they met the challenges of the busy first movement head on, getting beneath the tumultuous phrases to the deeper emotion below. The softer-hearted second theme, a chorale, with rippling arpeggios from the piano, reminded us that the Organ Symphony was not far off – and it was beautifully rendered here. A keenly felt Adagio led to a balletic third movement, initiated by Roscoe’s nicely pointed piano part. There was however a strong sense of everything pointing towards the finale. Its tremendous technical demands were comfortably conquered, but again the music’s feeling won the day, Humphreys playing winsome long phrases. Both players enjoyed the return of the ‘chorale’ theme, but also the peal of bells evoked by Roscoe from the piano.

Fauré’s Violin Sonata no.1 in A major Op.13 is an early work, written nine years earlier, when it was given a glowing review by his teacher. Humphreys spoke affectingly of its significance during lockdown, and it was clearly a tonic for her to be playing it again. The two players dovetailed beautifully, Roscoe’s flowing introduction picked up seamlessly by Humphreys’ lyrical phrases. The slow movement took time for deep thought, its gently undulating piano a foil for the violin’s probing melodies, gradually building to a deeply felt apex. The scherzo was winsome, its syncopations tripping over each other happily. An ardent account of the fourth movement found the players deep in conversation, right up to the end of this richly rewarding piece. It is difficult to write about what makes Fauré such an attractive composer – his gifts are plentiful but elusive – yet this performance had all the qualities that so impressed his teacher.

A strong cast of thirteen musicians assembled for a pair of concerts in the Saint John the Evangelist church. They were led by soprano Elizabeth Watts, and baritone Felix Kemp, with pianists Jâms Coleman, Martin Sturfält joined by principal players of the Echor Chamber Orchestra (Anna Wolstenholme (flute / piccolo), Jernej Albreht (clarinet), Owen Gunnell (percussion), Jonathan Stone and Sara Wolstenholme (violins), William Bender (viola), Nathaniel Boyd (cello), Laurence Ungless (double bass)

It is funny to think Saint-Saëns prohibited performances of Le Carnaval des Animaux in his lifetime, for fear of being dismissed as a frivolous composer. In the event the suite was published a year after his death, and the piece has had an enduring appeal ever since. The Oxford Lieder edition recognised that appeal but interspersed his suite with an array of animal-based songs from contemporaries and countrymen, together with short readings from nonsense verse by Ogden Nash.

The programme was brilliantly conceived but was too big, including a total of 17 songs alongside the Carnival without a break, meaning the flow was difficult to pick up at times. That said, the imaginative set of works largely succeeded thanks to the artistry on stage. Watts’ versatility was evident in the oppressive heat of Chausson’s La Caravane, its powerful vocal line in thrall to Wagner, and also in the amusing tale of La Cigale et la fourmi as set by Offenbach, with some brilliant high notes at the end.

There was a striking duet between Watts and flautist Anna Wolstenholme, portraying Roussel’s Rossignol mon mignon, before the soprano found the nub of Hugo Wolf’s solemn Wie lange schon war immer mein Verlangen. Felix Kemp was an effective foil, capturing the micro portraits of animals as realised by Poulenc from Apollinaire’s poetry, as well as Britten’s elusive Fish in the unruffled lakes.

The Carnival itself was a huge amount of fun. From the boisterous Introduction and Royal March of the Lion onward, it was nice to see the performers enjoying themselves in this irrepressible music. Double bassist Laurence Ungless caught the character of The Elephant, lumbering into view, while The Swan was beautiful and effortless in the hands of Nathaniel Boyd. Pianists evinced some ready laughter, before we returned to Watts for the rather lovely final song, Grieg’s own portrayal of the swan, which found her using a third language of the evening. The Echor soloists wrapped up with a celebratory finale, putting the cap on a concert which may have been too long, but which was ultimately enjoyable.

A packed day ended with a late evening recital from Adèle Charvet & Anne Le Bozec. Subtitled Mélodies on Tour, their program began with three English-language songs – two about sleep from Gounod, by turns perky then lustrous, with a setting of Longfellow’s poem Sleep. Saint-Saëns himself was next, evoking a heady atmosphere with A Voice By The Cedar Tree but then agitated in La mort d’Ophélie, where Charvet held an impressively strong tone.

The recital alternated songs by our chosen composer with a well-chosen selection of eight songs from Pauline Viardot, to whom Saint-Saëns dedicated his opera Samson et Dalila. Her song Lamento was the most directly communicative song, and an indication of why she is finally starting to get the exposure she deserves in a male-dominated field. Noch’Yu, one of two Pushkin settings, was evocative in this setting, but the pick of the eight was Aimez Moi, which brought a rapt stillness to proceedings.

Saint-Saëns‘ two settings of Uhland featured a striking piece of writing in the low register during Antwort, very well handled by Charvet, then the composer exaggerating his feelings rather in Ruhetal. Later we heard Guitares et Mandolines, the composer relishing the chance to depict the instruments in Anne Le Bozec’s deft accompaniment. The agitated Tournoiement spun itself into an eternal whirlpool.

There was time for two songs from Massenet, another underrated songwriter – his Crépuscule and Nuit D’Espagne expertly crafted examples, the latter with a Habanera-like profile – to which we returned in Viardot’s Madrid. The context of these night-time songs helped put the seal on a fascinating and richly rewarding set of concerts, showing the strength of depth French composers have to offer.

For further information on this year’s Oxford Lieder festival, you can visit the event’s website here

In concert – Carolyn Sampson, Anna Lapwood, CBSO Chorus, CBSO / Kazuki Yamada – Poulenc Gloria & Saint-Saëns ‘Organ’ Symphony

Yamada_Kazuki_5142_c_Zuzanna_Specjal

Tchaikovsky Solemn Overture ‘The Year 1812’ Op.49 (1880)
Poulenc
Gloria FP177 (1959)
Fauré
Messe Basse IGF50 (1881 rev.1906)
Saint-Saëns
Symphony no.3 in C minor Op.78 ‘Organ’ (1886)

Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Anna Lapwood (organ), CBSO Youth Chorus (Julian Wilkins, director), CBSO Chorus, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Kazuki Yamada (above)

Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Thursday 16 September 2021

Written by Richard Whitehouse
Photo credits Zuzanna Specjal (Kazuki Yamada), Marco Borggreve (Carolyn Sampson), Kirsten McTernan/BBC (Anna Lapwood)

It was no doubt coincidental that this opening concert of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s new season was typical of those programmes which one-time chief conductor Louis Frémaux gave with this orchestra during the mid-1970s, in its featuring two of his French specialities.

Back then, Poulenc’s Gloria could still be regarded as contemporary music, though its adept borrowing from the Stravinsky textbook married to the French composer’s insouciant brand of expressivity is arguably more widely accepted now than in that often style-conscious era. It duly responded to Kazuki Yamada’s keen impetus in the opening Gloria then the bracing syncopation of Laudamus te or a joyously animated Domine Fili. Carolyn Sampson (above) was an elegantly detached soloist in Domine Deus, opening-out emotionally in the Agnus Dei whose inward ecstasy was unerringly conveyed. Yamada elided deftly between the surging energy then calm resignation of the final Qui sedes; here, as throughout, the CBSO Chorus bringing supplicatory warmth to music it has been associated with almost since its founding.

Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony was a familiar item at CBSO concerts during the Frémaux era and one that the present-day orchestra tackled with no less alacrity. Yamada was clearly (and rightly) intent on stressing its symphonic cohesion – drawing ominous expectancy from the first half’s Adagio introduction then securing a powerful momentum in the main Allegro, before the organ’s hushed entry for a chastely eloquent slow movement. There was no lack of incisiveness or humour in the second half’s scherzo, not least its scintillating passagework for piano duet, but also purposeful intent as segued directly into the finale with its indelible main theme and its methodical build-up to an electrifying peroration. Here, too, Anna Lapwood’s (below) subtle choice of registration underlined motivic resourcefulness more than gestural brilliance.

In between these works, opening the second half, Fauré’s Messe Basse enjoyed relatively rare revival (at least in the concert hall). Initially a collaboration with André Messager, Fauré later essayed a complete setting of what is a Missa brevis (thus omitting the Gloria and Credo) for female voices and which sounds no less apposite when rendered, as here, by young singers. The CBSO Youth Choir summoned a poised detachment under the assured guidance of Julian Wilkins, abetted by Lapwood’s thoughtful accompaniment in this modest yet appealing piece.

One aspect of this programme that Frémaux would not have opted for was to commence with Tchaikovsky’s 1812, though few would surely dissent given the all-round focus of Yamada’s conception. Not least when the CBSO Chorus added its yearning tones to the opening section, returning towards the close for an emotive rendering of ‘God Save the Tsar’ to cap an already resplendent apotheosis. Tubular bells and Mahler-type mallet more than compensated for the absence of canon et al when this piece is trotted out at the end of a ‘greatest hits’ assemblage.

It was indeed fortuitous that Yamada open this season given his recent appointment as Chief Conductor of the CBSO from April 2023. He returns in due course, while next week brings Sarah Connolly for a rare hearing for Chausson’s rapturous Poème de l’amour et de la mer.

This concert will be repeated on Saturday 18 September at Symphony Hall – click here for tickets. You can find information on the new CBSO season here, while for more on Kazuki Yamada you can visit the conductor’s website

In concert – Stephen Hough, CBSO / Edward Gardner: Saint-Saëns, Mazzoli & Debussy

hough-gardiner

Stephen Hough (piano), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner

Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto no.4 in C minor Op. 44 (1875)
Mazzoli Violent, Violent Sea (2011)
Debussy La Mer L109 (1903-05)

Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Wednesday 19 May 2pm

Written by Richard Whitehouse

It may have been almost six months since the City of Birmingham Symphony last played to live audiences, but the frisson of expectation was palpable as the orchestra gradually took the stage for this first of nine concerts that, at around an hour’s duration, are being heard at 2pm then again at 6.30. The design of Symphony Hall’s platform makes it possible, moreover, to take out the raised platforms and so accommodate a larger number of musicians than would otherwise be possible in what is (hopefully!) a transitional period out of lockdown. Current restrictions still entail the spreading out of listeners, a small price to pay given the quality of acoustic at almost any point in this auditorium, while the rapid entry and exit procedures also enabled punters to assess the remodelled catering areas in advance of their June reopening.

As conducted by Edward Gardner, this programme featured works by two French composers with more in common than either could have suspected. Saint-Saëns nearly always brings out the best in Stephen Hough, and so it proved in this regrettably rare revival of the Fourth Piano Concerto. Its four sections grouped into two movements (a design the composer returned to a decade on with greater panache if less subtlety in his Third Symphony), the piece touches on aspects of sonata, variation and rondo procedures while its plain-spun material is developed in various and intriguing ways. This plus the close integration of soloist and orchestra often makes for a sinfonia concertante than concerto per se, yet there is no lack of virtuosity such as Hough despatched with alacrity – not least the cascading passagework in the final Allegro.

Saint-Saëns and Debussy evinced no mutual esteem, but as the former integrated symphonic elements into his concerto, so did the latter in his ‘three symphonic sketches’ which comprise La Mer. Here the CBSO came into its own, not least in the purposefully contrasted sequence of From Dawn to Midday on the Sea with its crepuscular writing for solo wind and divided strings through to a climactic chorale of visceral immediacy. Perhaps interplay of timbre and texture in Games of the Waves could have been more deftly handled, but Gardner exerted a firm grip over its course then drew real pathos from the final bars. He also found a persuasive balance between the volatile and poetic aspects in Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea, while maintaining steady momentum as issued forth in the chorale on its proudly affirmative return.

Between these works, Violent, Violent Sea by the highly regarded American composer Missy Mazzoli elicited a wholly different response as to its marine concept. Here it is the constant yet rarely insistent melding of translucent harmonies and pulsating rhythms (stemming from marimba and vibraphone) as underpin this music; the sustaining of whose atmosphere is the keener for its succinct duration. The ranging of its relatively modest forces across the extent of the platform also made for rather greater impact than might otherwise have been the case. It certainly added to the attractions of a programme which launched this series of concerts in impressive fashion. The CBSO returns next Wednesday with Nicholas Collon at the helm for a sequence that ends with the uncompromising defiance of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.

For further information about the CBSO’s current series of concerts, head to the orchestra’s website

For further information about Missy Mazzoli, click here