Monday saw Sutton Coldfield Philharmonic Society’s 2008/9 season launched with two significant debuts.
Conductor Daniele Rosina’s inaugural appearance with the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra (itself introducing its ‘Romantic Favourites’ concert series) and soloist Thomas Gould’s first public performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto.
If Rosina was unnerved by this untested territory, he showed no sign of it. Upright, decisive and expressive, he directed with clarity and touches of showmanship (a little jump here, a wiggle of the hips there) which he particularly relished in the ebullience of Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture.
The extrovert response from players was easily able to sweep aside some frailty from violins in the fastest passages.
Predictably, conductor and orchestra had to work harder to secure a clear line of musical thought through the turbulence of the Sibelius, and Gould, though an engaging soloist who managed the concerto’s technical demands impressively well for a first outing, did not always communicate much personal passion in the more virtuoso passages.
His vision was entirely gripping however, in the extreme delicacy of the poignant opening bars, in the warmth and intensity of more lyrical episodes, and the breathless hush which closed the Adagio.
The drama of Dvorák’s 7th Symphony allowed BPO to showcase its strengths (a fine, full sound, good range of tone colour, strong cellos and excellent individual performances from woodwind and horn), but could not disguise upper strings’ occasional lack of confidence when exposed and some wayward tuning in a very hot hall.
Nevertheless, outer movements revealed Rosina at his most exciting and the orchestra at its most responsive – a winning formula for a very enjoyable performance.