Thomas Dausgaard, whose credits include the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and as conductor-in-waiting at the BBC Scottish (to succeed Donald Runnicles) – was with this concert two-thirds through his debut in Detroit.
Now here’s a thing: I imagine the clocks have already moved forwards in the States, so what was a five-hour time difference became four and yours truly missed this concert’s first half. Absent then were Nielsen’s sun-kissed and expansive Helios Overture (fellow-Dane Dausgaard’s pianist-grandmother studied with Nielsen, he told me in an interview) and Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto with Simon Trpčeski, although I had heard him play this very work with the LSO only a few weeks previously.
Just Sibelius 1 then! Dausgaard had conducted this at last year’s BBC Proms – impressively. So too in Detroit, a reading – introduced by Ralph Skiano’s ideally bleak clarinet solo – at once intense, windswept, potent, vividly detailed, yearning and dynamic, and soulful strings and expressive woodwinds graced the slow movement, which turns turbulent before seeming numbed, certainly here. With a motoring and incisive Scherzo, the reflective Trio led by notable horns, and a Finale that was everything a quasi una fantasia should be – a story being told vibrantly and with personality – this was a good 40 minutes’ worth: in fact, in the small hours of a Sunday morning, it was just right; after all, less is more. Excellent sound from the Al Glancy Control Room.