At last the CBSO Youth Orchestra has revealed it has fallibilities like the rest of us, as Sunday’s well-attended concert showed.
The evening began uncertainly, after a mysteriously delayed start, with shaky ensemble, attack and intonation from wind and brass in Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture. Matters subsequently improved, conductor Alan Buribayev building tones of rich intensity and power from his young charges, and strings articulating with fizzing intensity.
But we started again from scratch in Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder. Mezzo-soprano Katarina Karneus sang with the creamiest of timbres, serene, compassionate, and opening out gloriously at the top of the range, but for much of these five songs the orchestra accompanied certainly efficiently, but without an empathy one perhaps should not expect from such young players. Towards the end, however, the spark at last ignited, thanks in part to a wonderful violin solo from Sarah Thornett, and “Um Mitternacht” and “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” communicated as genuine emotional experiences.
This was very much a concert of two halves, as football commentators might say, for after the interval we heard a performance of Shostakovich’s epic Symphony no. 11 as searing as you would hope to hear from any professional outfit.
Taut, generously phrased, vibrantly coloured, and with an amazing delivery of the continually taxing timpani part from Rachel Starmer, this account was stamped with quality from every department.