DVORAK is almost as big a draw as he was more than a century ago, for the Town Hall was packed for this concert in which the BBC Phil played two of the Czech composer’s best known and best loved works.
The concert concluded with his Symphony No 8, once known as Dvorak’s ‘London Symphony’, because it was performed in that city in 1890, very soon after its composition. Victorian England’s esteem for Dvorak has never died, and this symphony, one of the most melodic in the repertoire, shows why.
Yutaka Sado conducted the symphony without a score, an indication of his complete immersion in the work. It also gave him the opportunity to engage in some podium histrionics – very engaging for the audience, although it is never clear how beneficial this sort of thing is for the orchestra.Š
There is no doubt, however, that Sado presided over a good performance and conjured some very effective dynamics, not least an impressive pianissimo in the Andante, which faded almost to inaudibility. Š
The concert, entitled ‘Czech Combination’, had begun with the overture from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, which opens with a demanding string passage, very well executed. This was followed by Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, in which the soloist was Enrico Dindo.
For many years he was principal cello for La Scala in Milan, and it its tempting to suggest that this why he was at his most effective when ‘singing’ Dvorak’s fine melodies, including some rapturous passages towards the conclusion of the work.