|Alpesh Chauhan. Photograph by Patrick Allen|
The email which arrived on Thursday morning was the kind which can cause real tears - if you have bought tickets especially to hear a particular conductor, soloist, or - more likely for me - singer. Andris Nelsons was sick. A midweek trip to Birmingham was indeed fuelled by the idea of can I fit in a bit more Andris before he goes after the earth-shattering Parsifal (review). Symphony Hall was packed, with the choir and other places I didn't even know people could sit filled. And no sense of disappointment when not Nelsons arrived to conduct.
Indeed, there was no reason for disappointment. the CBSO are on top-form at the moment, particularly after their tour in Europe to ecstatic reviews. They responded well to the Assistant Conductor Alpesh Chauhan brought in at the last moment. I fancied some of his movements were not dissimilar to Nelsons. In any case this was a superb performance, unobtrusive and smooth direction made this highly memorable.
The first piece was Schubert No 8, which is a wonderful piece.
Strauss' Horn Concerto No 2 gave a chance for Elspeth Dutch to shine as soloist, drawn from the ranks of the CBSO. I worried a bit when I saw the music stand in place; but my fears were unfounded and the piece which was new to me offered unadulterated Strauss from the first bar.
Dvořák 7 was the real show-stopper - some fine wind solos in particular reminded me that how important the wind section is to the CBSO. Clarinets (Oliver Janes and Joanna Patton), flutes (Marie-Christine Zupancic and Veronika Klirova) and Oboes (Rainer Gibbons and Emmet Byrne) in particular showed how many skilled musicians play in the CBSO.
Overall: If this is a taste of the CBSO post-Nelsons, then good things are in store. Might the answer to : 'who next?' be under their noses? I rather hope so.Programme
Schubert Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished)
Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2
Dvořák Symphony No. 7
The concert was broadcast on Radio 3, and you can listen again for a month.
Alpesh Chauhan's site is here.