REVIEW: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Guildhall, Portsmouth

January 29, 2016

It seems I misjudged Christoph Koenig after his Chichester encounter with the BSO in 2014.

I considered his conducting cold and mechanical then, but last night he was delicate and fiery in turn.

He was clearly less in tune with Dvorak’s eighth symphony then than he was now with Kodaly, Beethoven and Brahms.

Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, vividly varied in character, featured a dancing flute (no, not literally), surging strings and a fiesta of a finale.

John Lill, soloist in Beethoven’s third piano concerto, then seemed to inspire Koenig with playing that was muscular when necessary but also precisely-balanced, notably in a sonorous first-movement cadenza, and richly lyrical in the slow movement.

But it was in Brahms’s third symphony, after a slightly fussy opening and some loss of clarity in that first movement’s climax, that Koenig revealed his deeper thinking.

Restless moments were well-caught and the third movement featured impressively yearning cellos and refined sonorities from the horns.

In the finale Koenig drew plenty of fire from the whole orchestra before deftly winding down to the magical ending.

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