Sometimes it takes a foreign conductor to reveal to a British audience neglected delights by our own native composers.
Certainly Sakari Oramo has already unearthed treasures galore via the CBSO (not least the wondrous John Foulds CD released last year), and on Wednesday he drew another plum out of his inexhaustible pie.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is remembered for his Hiawatha settings, but in fact his pedigree boasts many works ranging across the entire compositional spectrum. How well they work in terms of structure is debatable on the evidence of what we heard here, but these Symphonic Variations on an African Air proved seductively scored and wonderfully expressive.
Following well-worn procedures of similar offerings from Brahms and Max Reger, the work progresses through colourful treatments of the spiritual Trouble in mind, with many delightful contributions from various orchestral soloists along the way. Oramo and his players delivered this attractive piece with elegant phrasing and a fine sense of balance as expansive countermelodies overlapped each other.
More overtly nationalistic is the first Horn Concerto by Richard Strauss. There?s something about this instrument which 19th-century German composers seemed to appropriate to themselves, outdoor imagery painting pictures of a wooded motherland. Possibly one tires of all these hearty hunting calls after a while, but the exuberant virtuosity of soloist Elspeth Dutch, with a lively, willing and enthusiastic response from her orchestral colleagues, banished any curmudgeonly thoughts.
Arabella Steinbacher?s account of the magical Bruch G minor Violin Concerto was proudly poised, beautifully bowed, and with a gorgeously sweet tone. Her Ysaye encore was spookily mesmerising.
Finally, Oramo?s liquid, generous beat allowed all the eccentricities of Schumann?s Spring Symphony to hit the audience, sometimes teasingly, and always throbbing with detail.