BSO, Mahler’s 4th Symphony, Poole Lighthouse

Mahler’s 4th Symphony
Beethoven Overture: Leonora No, 3
Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending
Mahler Symphony No. 4

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, leader Amyn Merchant

Alexander Soddy: Conductor
Thomas Gould: Violin
Natalia Tanasii: Soprano

ALEXANDER Soddy led the BSO through a packed, popular and richly varied programme at the Lighthouse last night, combining Beethoven’s most extended and ambitious overture, arguably Vaughan Williams’s best-loved piece (judging by the Classic FM playlists) and Mahler’s most accessible and lovable symphony.

Soddy, who has just turned 40, is much better known in mainland Europe, especially in Germany, than in his native England, with a string of outstanding credits, mainly in the field of opera, to his name. He impressed right from the start, with an alert and dynamic reading of the Beethoven overture, with flautist Anna Pyne starring in her exposed solo passages.

We then heard Thomas Gould in Vaughan Williams’s ‘The Lark Ascending’, a single-movement romance for violin and orchestra which famously evokes the sounds and feelings of a skylark rising over an English pastoral landscape. Gould was hugely impressive, playing sustained notes at the very top of his instrument’s range with a vanishing hushed pianissimo that seemed to melt into the silence of the hushed hall. Silent that is apart from the occasional irritating loud cougher: people with uncontrollable coughs should do the rest of us a favour and stay away!

After the interval we heard Mahler’s 4th Symphony. This is a very individual piece, conjuring up a unique atmosphere of its own, a blend of child-like innocence and a dark, edgy and at times grotesque world where death is never far away. The orchestration is rich and varied, with no tubas or trombones but four percussionists and five clarinets. The one moment of untroubled and luscious tranquility is at the beginning of the slow movement, when the BSO’s cellos and violins combined to lift us to another plane of serenity and peace. Soddy’s choices of tempo throughout seemed very natural and appropriate. In the last movement the frantic sleigh-bell driven orchestral passages contrasted well with the innocent, easeful passages from soprano NataliaTanasii, where she sings of a child’s vision of the delights to come after death in heaven. Tanasii’s singing was characterful and engaging, and the whole concert was very warmly applauded by a very-well-filled Lighthouse.




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