CBSO/Jarvi at Symphony Hall, Birmingham
This funky, largely Latin-American programme might have attracted a bigger audience had it not been scheduled at the start of a Christmas winterval when people have their minds on other things.
But those who stayed away from Thursday’s CBSO concert missed a wonderful display of exuberance and orchestral virtuosity under the kinetic baton of Kristjan Jarvi, another scion of the conducting family which has figured so large in the orchestra’s history over many decades.
Ginastera’s Estancia Suite, zippy and tight, and employing almost all the percussionists available in the region, seemed to offer little in substance to reward all the effort which went into rehearsing it.
Riches came with the Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story, awash with colour, zestful in delivery, and oozing with every kind of emotion.
And the novelty of the evening was the Double Concerto for Cello and Jazz Saxophone (two of them in fact, soprano and tenor) by Tim Garland, whose own probing, improvisatory sax playing was matched by the broad-lined, infinitely resourceful cello response of Eduardo Vassallo, their voices interacting so generously.
This is captivating music which deserves repeated hearings. But I wonder, given the force-requirements, and the nature of the solo-writing, how often will they happen?
The odd one out here was the Gallic vision of Ancient Greece which is Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, its Second Suite given with filmic glamour (fabulous solo flute and clarinet), though we could have done without Jarvi’s podium choreography.