BSO, Poole Lighthouse, Wednesday 11th January

FeddeckBrahms: Tragic Overture
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 2
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5

BSO, leader Amyn Merchant
Conductor James Feddeck
Alexei Volodin, piano

AFTER an exhausting schedule of Christmas concerts and New Year walzes, this was back to business for the hard-working BSO. The conductor was the young American James Feddeck, who has gained a wealth of experience and many enthusiastic reviews in recent years from his willingness to stand in, sometimes at short notice, for indisposed conductors. The soloist was the Russian Alexei Volodin.

Feddeck is a business-like and decisive presence on the podium, setting a clear beat and using both arms expressively to convey his wishes with appropriate but not histrionic assertiveness. He led the orchestra through a well-paced and structured account of the Brahms Tragic Overture which grew in intensity and passion as it went.

The Second Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto is not heard often enough, eclipsed as it is by the better-known First. It is a passionate, intense and immediately accessible piece, played at full throttle and with Slavic passion by Volodin.  The orchestra struggled to match the intensity of his playing, although Amyn Merchant (violin) and Jesper Svedberg (cello) played beautifully in their extended solo passages in the slow movement, when the work almost becomes a concerto for String Trio. In the final movement Volodin continued to tear into torrential cascades of precisely-articulated notes in a breath-taking display of virtuosity.

After the interval, we settled in for the Fifth Symphony by Sibelius.  Composed in 1915, this magnificent symphony achieves epic status without using either the extended time-scale or enlarged orchestra used by composers such as Mahler and Shostakovich. Balancing the rapidly-shifting musical language and emotional content is no easy task for a conductor, but this was a completely satisfying performance, in keeping with the orchestra’s fine tradition of Sibelius performances stretching back to the days when Paavo Berglund was the conductor in the 1970s. All sections of the orchestra excelled, and Feddeck negotiated the complexities of the first movement, the simplicity of the second and the blazing splendour of the last with clarity and confidence.


Posted in Reviews on .