At the heart of this concert of English music was a performance of exceptional poise and maturity by the young soloist Andreas Brantelid of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. This was a cohesive interpretation in which the lighter elements, deftly handled, were never over-shadowed by the adagio – which was pensive and melancholy but not the tear-drenched lament for a land of lost content which more indulgent players make it. The tussle between resignation and defiance was made all the more vital, with Brantelid’s vividly projected playing always matched by the orchestra under Michael Seal.
The concert began in a burst of energy with John Foulds’ April-England, using a battery of percussion and brass, bringing spring erupting on the platform in a dazzling display of musical colour. One could almost smell the apple blossom, so vital was the playing of this remarkable orchestra.
They were a little slow out of the blocks for the start of Walton’s first symphony but once into their stride were impressively assured. The second movement’s infamous direction “with malice” was realized – erupting in bursts of concentrated energy with snarling brass. The fourth movement’s fugue was skilfully handled and the final brass peroration overwhelming.