It was ironic that the Orchestra of the Swan should have chosen to launch its fourth season at Birmingham Town Hall with two of Delius’ steamily perfumed orchestral miniatures on what turned out to be the coldest day of the autumn thus far.
Never mind: David Curtis drew warm, lush, flowing accounts of On Hearing the first Cuckoo in Spring and Summer Night on the River from his band, woodwind properly predominant but never obtrusive.
Benjamin Grosvenor, OOTS’ latest associate artist, received a tremendous reception from a well-filled auditorium even before he’d played a note of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no.21, K467. After a poised, crystalline orchestral introduction, Grosvenor’s entry into the sound-picture seemed to emerge out of nothing, his playing crisp, clear and articulate, his focus thoughtful and absorbed, and with certainly no gallery-directed “flash”.
The fluidity of his fingerwork, his well-placed bass lines and attentiveness to conductor and inner detail made this a performance of chamber-music intimacy.
Never mind Grosvenor being a BBC prizewinner; audiences have won a major prize in finding this amazing young man. Curtis’ direction of Schubert’s innocent, fresh Symphony no.5 was somewhat over-shaped, but the orchestra was truly on song, spirited and generous, and with Diane Clark’s flute so expressively phrased.
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