The versatility of the CBSO is boundless. A few days ago they were delivering Shostakovich’s gargantuan Leningrad Symphony under their prized music director Andris Nelsons, last Friday they glitzed their way through James Bond film classics, and on Sunday they presented a children-friendly family concert.
And between all those offerings they gave an immensely stylish all-Bach concert to a packed matinee audience, playing four of the Brandenburg Concertos (what a pity we didn’t get all six), and showcasing co-principal cellist Ulrich Heinen in the first Suite for Solo Cello – and how versatile he is, too, having starred a few evenings earlier in Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s latest concert.
The players (cellos and the excellent harpsichordist Martin Perkins – with a fabulous linking cadenza in Brandenburg 3 – apart) performed standing, except, oddly for Brandenburg 3.
Giovanni Antonini directed either from the podium (where his body-language resembled so much that of the choirmaster in The Vicar of Dibley) or from his dulcet recorder, where he was partnered with the mellifluous Emma Murphy.
Violinists Laurence Jackson and Zoe Beyers, oboist Rainer Gibbons and trumpeter David Blackadder were the remarkable soloists in performances which penetrated so crisply, clearly, yet unobtrusively to the heart of these modest masterpieces.
And how heartening it was to see so many of the other CBSO members turn up on an afternoon off to support their colleagues, and to cheer the moving self-communing of Uli Heinen as he sat solitary on the vast stage.
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