CBSO, Kashimoto/Yamada review


Symphony Hall*****
Libel laws won't permit me to name the many conductors who cavort for the gallery, but there are some who have such an eloquence of body-language that it transmits every interpretative intention, and teases every detail from the players. Andris Nelsons is one thus gifted, and in Kazuki Yamada, the CBSO's Chief Conductor-elect, we now have another.
He was like a goading, persuasive marionette, in what is indeed Prokofiev's toytown "Classical" Symphony. Uninhibited gestures mirrored those in this extrovert score, woodwind were encouraged to bubble and strings to bustle in this witty, elegant account. Only in the Gavotte did the shaping seem excessively rhetorical.
Yamada then greeted us all with enthusiasm and warmth, flattering us as "a great audience", before introducing his compatriot Daishin Kashimoto, Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic (who has therefore collaborated with Simon Rattle), as soloist in the Bruch G minor Violin Concerto.
This reading certainly blew away all the layers of accustomisation from this played-to-death work. To what is actually a tremendous opening movement Kashimoto's tone brought wiry hypertension with oases of solace between, and orchestral support was fulsome and generous. The hush of the adagio was heartstopping, its beatific repose dispelled by the punchy delivery of the finale, Kashimoto busy but never florid in this movingly musicianly account.
Applause at the end was endless, and from the orchestra as well, who obviously recognised and respected the unassuming musicianship of this quietly endearing man. The rapport between the Berlin Phil's concertmaster and the CBSO's Eugene Tzikindelean was something very special.
Finally came the Scottish Symphony of Mendelssohn, a composer very dear to Birmingham and indeed to Yamada. Its structure can be accused of rambling, but not here, where transitions were moulded most effectively, not least the link to the finale's coda, which can often seem a tawdry add-on, but which here rounded off the work triumphantly (incidentally, has anyone noticed Mahler's pinching of it for the finale of his First Symphony?)
Yamada balanced lines perceptively, wind solos and duets (not least clarinet and bassoon) were eloquently delivered, horns chattered splendidly in the skirling scherzo, and the strings were just simply gorgeous all the way through as they responded to the conductor's unfolding of this wonderful symphony.
Christopher Morley

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