Despite the best will in the world, musical masterpieces can often end up being taken for granted. Now and again, though, a performance will come along which makes you sit up afresh, smell the coffee and take notice once again of just why that particular piece is so great.
And that happened in Thursday’s CBSO concert, when Kari Kriikku breathed new life into Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, a wonderful work which has suffered so much through being a staple of the repertoire and performance-fodder for so many soloists, some more inspired than others.
Some may have been put off by Kriikku’s choreography, moving as one with his instrument in his total involvement with this ineffable music. But there are some sad souls who find Andris Nelsons’ balletic gesturing contrived, too, not appreciating the total unity of body and mind in interpretation.
John Storgards was the conductor here, his cut-down orchestra warm and responsive to the soloist’s subtle rubato. And Kriikku’s delivery was so persuasive, little licks of ornamentation enlivening Mozart’s autumnal score, his tone liquid and confiding, his chalumeau register on this extended basset clarinet-type instrument dark and squirmingly cosy.
We had a similar experience with Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture. The CBSO’s account under Storgards powerfully dynamic, yielding to sweet surging lyricism where appropriate.
After the interval we endured Sibelius’ Lemminkainen Suite. There was some wonderful playing here, not least from Jill Crowther’s cor anglais in the lugubrious Swan of Tuonela, full-throated strings, and Cliff Pick’s ubiquitous but so eloquent bass drum.
But oh, Sibelius’ incessant and dire doodlings. I wished so often for them to stop, but they went on and on.