Little more than a decade ago, you would never find the CBSO’s music director conducting anything by Tchaikovsky: Simon Rattle had a blind spot for the man.
Thankfully, Sakari Oramo had no such qualms, and now, in one of his first concerts as the orchestra’s current MD, Andris Nelsons devoted an entire evening to the Russian master.
Nelsons, in his first spoken introduction to a CBSO audience, gave eloquent insights into the composer, “doubting all the time, like all artists, speaking to each heart, each individual”.
Too rarely heard, the Hamlet Overture was delivered with power and passion by this galvanised orchestra.
Sakari Oramo did much for the string sound, and now Nelsons, an ex-orchestral trumpeter, has brought immense personality to the wind section.
It was good to learn that there is an ongoing project to record Tchaikovsky symphonies and overtures on the Orfeo label. Hamlet is already in the can, with the Symphony no.5, which here received the most incandescent reading I have ever heard live, and which will surely surpass even the legendary recorded one with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Baibe Skride, Nelsons’ old schoolmate, delivered an energetic, mellow-toned account of the Violin Concerto.