C.B.S.O. at Symphony Hall by Christopher Morley
Coming back tired and jaded after a demanding and concentrated, highly successful week-and-a-half tour of Central Europe? Not a bit of it.
What we heard from the CBSO in Thursday's packed matinee was an encapsulation of some of the items on their touring programme, but sounding fresh and newly-minted thanks to the elfin energy of Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla.
Under her choreographic baton the Tristan und Isolde Prelude and Liebestod (itself an encapsulation of all that happens during Wagner's marathon opera) was phrased in one great convincing arc, textures as gossamer as chamber-music, eventually erupting into the surging eroticism of the Liebestod's orgasmic release.
Eroticism of a subtler nature suffuses Schumann's Piano Concerto, built out of his love for his hard-won wife Clara, and in this account from veteran pianist Rudolf Buchbinder we were persuasively reminded of its conception as a Fantasia for piano and orchestra, soloist and collaborators breathing and shaping as one, the piano an obbligato member of the orchestra instead of the standout superstar.
Buchbinder's left-hand definition underpinned right-hand flights of fancy, bringing the soundworld of Chopin (whom Schumann did so much to encourage) very close, not least in the skirling waltz towards the end of an exhilarating finale, Buchbinder here joyously confronting all Schumann's mischievous conundrums.
Mirga hurtled into a reckless, gripping opening movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, stunning the restless post-interval audience as the music flashed by in a trice (though pauses could have been prolonged more portentously), as terse and dramatic as the composer's Coriolan overture, also in C minor.
Gossamer textures were again to the fore in the slow movement, sinuous embellishments to the melodic material and crisp phrase-endings to the rhetorical outbursts. Perhaps elements of the scherzo sounded too easy, too suave, but the transition to the glorious finale (death-rattling timpani --"period" instruments, as were the heavy brass --, grisly strings) burst us into glorious sunlight as this aspirational music span to its irresistibly affirmative conclusion.