Thrilling Performance from Yutaka Sado and BBC Phil

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Britten, Korngold, Dvořák: Ruth Palmer (violin), BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Yutaka Sado (conductor), Westmorland Hall, Kendal, Cumbria, 2.3.2013. (MC)

Britten: Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes
Korngold: Violin Concerto
Dvořák: Symphony No.9 in E minor ‘From the New World’

Presented by the Lakeland Sinfonia Concert Society:


Yutaka Sado, photo credit Yuji Hori
Yutaka Sado, photo credit Yuji Hori

Saturday certainly was a significant day for Japan in the North West of England. Shinji Kagawa the Manchester United footballer made the headlines by becoming the first Asian player to score a Premier League hat-trick, whilst seventy or so miles away conductor Yutaka Sado and the BBC Philharmonic were thrilling the large audience at Kendal’s Westmorland Hall.

This was the first time I had heard Britten’s Four Sea Interludes since seeing Andrew Manze in Munich conducting a splendid programme of English music in 2010. Here in Kendal the talented Maestro Yutaka Sado captured a special atmosphere of dark potency and foreboding generated by Britten’s angry seascape. In the second interlude how well the playing evoked an early Sunday morning scene in the town with the sound of church bells feeling especially realistic. Shimmering shafts of moonlight in the third interlude poured brightly through the gloom and in the final interlude the dynamic Sado generated a storm that blew furiously to a startling effect.

I’m sure that the Violin Concerto from Oscar winning Hollywood film composer Eric Korngold was new to many of the audience. The score can never compete for greatness with the likes of Beethoven and Brahms but it’s an enjoyable concerto that I like to hear from time to time. Extensively recycling material from several of his film scores I half expected the swashbuckling Errol Flynn to jump onto the stage from behind one of the curtains. Soloist Ruth Palmer demonstrated how easily accessible the work is with its captivating if sometimes grandiose passages and emphasis on melody. Commencing a little apprehensively Palmer quickly grew in confidence. Though not as flamboyant as many of the current crop of soloists on the scene today Palmer’s polished and expressive playing revealed a formidable partnership with Maestro Sado and his players. I especially enjoyed the opening movement Moderato nobile with its meltingly beautiful melodies played with such poise by the soloist demonstrating a virtuosity that felt quite effortless.

Maestro Sado and the BBC Philharmonic established a special rapport in Dvořák’s much loved Symphony No.9From the New World’. Marshalling together his sections with palpable assurance the Japanese maestro led a performance of great energy that felt as fresh and vibrant as I have heard in this work for some time. Such passion and power in the opening movement contrasted with the peace and harmony of the captivating Largo with the smoky sounding cor anglais on peak form. Sado’s judicious balancing of the orchestral textures and tempi in the ebullient Scherzo was outstanding and the bold Finale contained power and passion combined with compelling drama.

Throughout the evening the well rounded BBC Phil brass blazed confidently and the unified string sound has developed a most attractive bloom. Percussionists are not usually singled out for accolades but principal timpanist Paul Turner gave a masterclass in playing. Delightfully pleasing to the ear the woodwind section was kept extremely busy and also deserves praise. I’m glad this concert was being recorded for future transmission on BBC Radio 3 for others to share in this memorable performance.

Presented by the Lakeland Sinfonia Concert Society:

Michael Cookson