Thursday’s well-attended matinee was a triumph under Andris Nelsons, but a poignant one, too, as it was bassoonist John Schroder’s last Birmingham concert after 45 years with the CBSO.
Appropriately, it ended with Brahms’ Symphony no.2, probably one of the first works John ever played with the orchestra in 1966.
Typically for John, in Thursday’s reading he was part of a well-knit woodwind ensemble, delivering Brahms’ pastoral colourings with character and suave empathy. Brass and strings brought a golden, well-cushioned glow to the familiar score, and Nelsons did wonders shaping counterpoints and counter-melodies, and building what can appear a sprawling finale to a convincing conclusion.
And Nelsons’ signature-piece with the CBSO, Strauss’ Don Juan began the programme cracklingly, huge exultant climaxes and intimate chamber-music detail effortlessly sculpted by Nelson’s often one-handed beat.
Christian Tetzlaff, wearing his virtuosity lightly, and obviously as one with his silky, mellow German instrument, brought a value-added dancing body-language to Dvorak’s Violin Concerto. The outer movements always fail to convince, but the slow movement’s gentle regretfulness found a persuasive advocate here.
Rating * * * * *