Applauding after an orchestral movement is now considered bad etiquette or worse, an infallible indicator of the philistine.
That’s a pity since the blazing allegro con brio of Beethoven’s Eroica from these young players deserved an audible acclamation.
A gallery wit at the first performance shouted that he’d pay another kreutzer if only the music would stop: I’d have paid a fiver to hear it again.
Michael Seal conducted a strong sinewy performance where details were clear – the slow movement’s plaintive oboe lament and the basses’ stabbing interventions for example – but always suborned to the overall narrative drive.
The players clearly relished Beethoven’s dramatic thrusts and parries but also excelled in the jolly bucolic trio with its virtuoso hunting calls – fine work by the horns – and the skittish dancing finale.
The symphony’s funeral march stalks eerily through the bass line at the close of Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, his string threnody to the destruction of his beloved Dresden, the tainting of German culture by the Nazis and perhaps his own ill-fated collaboration with them.
The bass section captured perfectly how the music crumbles into dust as Beethoven’s accusatory shade appears.
The exposed lines and need for pinpoint intonation meant that players were sometimes hard-pressed but this was a noble and moving performance.
Kodály’s Dances of Marosszék were sheer delight with players revelling in their rhythmic verve.
The gypsy-inflected opening was suitably weighty, there were notable contributions from oboe and flute in the sylvan moderato dance, and the finale was delightfully rumbustious.