CBSO * * * * *
at Symphony Hall
Review by Christopher Morley
The jinx currently bedevilling Symphony Hall with bomb-scares, cancellations and changes of artist has a benevolent side.
However unfortunate the loss of the original conductor and soloist for Tuesday's CBSO concert, what we experienced from their replacements was nothing short of extraordinary.
Here an enthusiastic audience witnessed the emergence of a natural Bruckner conductor in the shape of Radoslaw Szulc, originally scheduled to lead the orchestra for the evening. He drew a reading of this awkward but rewarding composer's Fourth Symphony which ebbed and flowed with tension and which built sonorities limitless in their reserves of power.
Bruckner the organist was never far away in this performance, with shifting registrations, strings shimmering out of nothing, woodwind plaintively hymn-like, mighty brass roaring their affirmations, and a sense of improvisation as Szulc shaped a flux of tempo which allowed the reaching-back to previous themes to accumulate in emotional effect.
Szulc's technique is by no means elegant, with much duplication of windmill-like right and left arms, but the results he conjures are magical. This Bruckner was very special.
The generous programme also brought Tchaikovsky's meaty Piano Concerto no.2, Elisabeth Leonskaja a soloist wonderfully attuned to the score's basis in collaboration with individual members of the orchestra.
Though certainly capable of firm, well-defined thunderous chording and double-octaves, Leonskaja also revealed a capacity for gentle delicacy, and her partnership with violinist Robert Heard (taking over music Szulc was originally down to play) and cellist Ulrich Heinen in the meltingly sweet andante ushered us into the world of chamber-music.