The slow introduction broods with potency, Robin Ticciati’s use of antiphonal violins immediately opens-up the dialogue, and the sound glows as well as displaying richness and depth of perspective. Already the ear has heard the occasional detail not always apparent. To the Allegro moderato (exactly the latter in terms of tempo), which flows without phrasal hiatuses if with much sentiment. Ticciati repeats the exposition and makes its return inevitable rather than being a slavish observation of what’s on the page. Come the development, we move into stormier waters, or should do, things are now a little tame (over-polite timpani, for example) – contained – and as the recapitulation is reached it’s difficult to not think of the word “inertia”, something confirmed by a quickening of pace at 22:24, but then, sadly, the movement as a whole is undone by a crass unsolicited timpani stroke at the very end. Diminishing returns.
Better things lie ahead … a lively pinpointed Scherzo, luxurious when required, and then a wonderful slow movement, with a beautiful clarinet solo, the music cossetted, its intimacies blossomed to ecstasy, and with the sunset coda exquisitely handled. The Finale is given some of the impetus not always found in the opening movement, though not over-fast and also strategic in accommodating expansive lyricism. A festive air is apparent and, the odd lingering aside, there is no doubt that this performance is heading to a glorious conclusion, strings always audible (not guaranteed) in the ultimate bars. Linn CKD 653.