If one sometimes raises a quizzical eyebrow at her conducting of the German classics (Beethoven and Brahms in my case), then Mirga G-T is certainly on-song with this quartet of English wonders, opening with Elgar’s sentiment-loaded Sospiri, introducing gorgeous string-playing and personal eloquences … such wistfulness then knocked sideways by the crushing opening of Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, the whole delivered powerfully, searchingly and inexorably, with clarity, atmosphere, passion and virtuosity.
I then jumped to the Vaughan Williams – the ‘Requiem aeternam’ conclusion of the Britten tailor-made to fold into the ethereal beginning of the Tallis Fantasia –, given an especially spiritual and shapely outing, the second, smaller, string orchestra magically distant, as if responding from Thomas Tallis’s own time, centuries ago, and the quartet-players are no less fine. The climax takes wing and glows, and the final diminuendo is judged to a nicety.
Then back to the Walton, music from his opera Troilus and Cressida, arranged into a half-hour Symphonic Suite by Christopher Palmer. Voices not missed, this is vintage Walton, absolutely him, conjuring all-sorts of images, emotions and states of mind. This is music that takes you places and rouses the senses (Walton the master of fanfares and the ceremonial), not least the dramatic conclusion, and Mirga and the CBSO really travel with it.
For all that the performances emanate from different venues and dates (Symphony Hall, Birmingham, or the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg; 10/2019, 11/2020, 3/2021), the recorded sound is consistently excellent. DG 486 1547.