Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Dausgaard at Lighthouse – Don Juan & Tchaikovsky 4 – Augustin Hadelich plays Sibelius’s Violin Concerto

Don Juan, Op.20
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op.47
Symphony No.4 in F minor, Op.36

Augustin Hadelich (violin)

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Thomas Dausgaard

Reviewed by: David Truslove

Reviewed: 27 April, 2016
Venue: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, England

Thomas DausgaardPhotograph: Thomas GrøndahlRichard Strauss’s Don Juan was given a performance bursting with life – punchy and packed with virility. The Bournemouth strings coped admirably with the impetuous opening flourish (just a little underpowered) and timpani provided plenty of heft. A passionate Thomas Dausgaard secured clarity, energy and momentum, bringing detail (harp and glockenspiel in particular) to the fore while not diminishing the music’s intrinsic opulence. Gentler sections (perhaps not so seductive here) were well-shaped and Edward Kay’s wistful oboe solo seduced the ear. The horns, magnificently declamatory, set in motion the final section: a blistering scherzando followed by a finely controlled leave-taking.

Augustin HadelichPhotograph: Rosaalie O'ConnorJust as you think you’ve heard enough versions of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, an outstanding soloist comes along and makes you listen afresh. Such an artist is Augustin Hadelich who combines virtuosity, spontaneity and fervour, and above all communication. In this reading the orchestral strings provided some magic of their own, heard at the outset in their trembling pianissimo. But Dausgaard’s leisurely opening tempo was pushed forward by Hadelich who had other ideas. No matter, as we could better enjoy the scales and arpeggios that were dashed off with matchless ease and accuracy. The cadenza was dazzling for its assurance and ardour, and had a wealth of colour that combined rich plummy hues with silvery pearls. For the Adagio Dausgaard created something dream-like – expansive and yearning, and in the Finale Hadelich drew out the energy and the wit from the impish main theme, but it was his musical fireworks that caught the attention and mesmerised. As an encore he played Paganini’s A-minor Caprice (No.5, marked Agitato) Words cannot convey just how hypnotic Hadelich is.

Dausgaard opted for a vigorous, forthright approach to the Tchaikovsky. So the opening salvo from brass was not the doom-laden or strident proclamation it could have been, its grim reality tempered into something more positive. The strings glowed in their whirring scale-figures and a perky clarinet solo (Kevin Banks) captured the movement’s reveries well. Tempo changes were well-negotiated, Dausgaard bringing off a superbly dramatic coda. He ventured some way into the tragic vein of the Andante (initiated by a nicely shaped oboe solo) and there were some delicious woodwind decorations when the opening theme returns. In the pizzicato Scherzo, ensemble and unanimity were second-to-none, the playing superbly nimble. The Finale was bracing, hurtling along on the edge of safety, yet always disciplined. Near ear-splitting brass and percussion almost up-staged the rest of the orchestra, but iron-rod tension was maintained through to the life-affirming coda. Triumph over tribulation has never been so exhilarating.

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