Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

On April 1 next year Kazuki Yamada becomes chief conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, He got in early, so to speak, with this concert, although it wasn’t his CBSO debut, opening with Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, a fiery and seductive account in the mould of Kempe, Reiner and Szell, if not always with their precision and polish; however, solos were taken with character and some fraying went for very little given the musicians’ corporate commitment. (Trombones and tuba were now finished for the night.) Then a creamy-rich soprano voice exuding charm and depth of feeling, handsomely accompanied, characterised warmly a couple of Mozart Arias – concert and opera respectively – Vado, ma dove? Oh dei! (K583) & ‘Non più di fiori’ from La clemenza di Tito (K621), marking Fatma Said as a notable talent. She returned for the message-from-Heaven Finale of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, blessedly so. Leading up to it, Yamada’s flexible way with the first movement was persuasive, playful and nightmarish aspects dovetailed, lyricism intensely moulded, with detail a-plenty. Aided by Eugene Tzikindelean’s tuned-higher (second) violin and some vivid projection of woodwinds, the ensuing movement had its macabre quotient intact, while the slow third – initially rapt and idyllic, discreetly controlled – was ebbed and flowed without losing sight of the whole and the majestic climax, arrived at suspensefully, its aftermath poignant.