The mood of the Britten was captured immediately by the strings creating a really haunting feeling. The arpeggios played by the harp are beautifully interacted with the long brass chords which follow – all credit to the CBSO there. But the first time in the piece of real power and force is when brass and percussion play at Fortissimo hits the audience, making us imagine a portrait of the sea and particularly a shipwreck. The diversity is put over with slides, glissandos from the brass and woodwind as well as well positioned crisp staccato notes which are sympathetically played. The continuity of the deathly feel is heightened with discord music from the tubular bells. The domination of the trombone and tuba with stabbing chords reminds me of a shark attack with strings playing hurriedly as fish try to escape their fate. My criticisms would be very minor in the conductor’s style: I feel that his handling of tempo changes were slightly indolent and he himself got rather too excited coming up to the end, rather like a child, but perhaps that is his style which is fine.

Trumpeter Hakan Hardenburger began the Haydn with grace and power at the same time – which is an impressive combination. The orchestra sympathetically accompanied him. Whether it was the hard passages of fast scurrying notes and difficult trills or the sections with slow and striking melodies, Hakan’s tone, rhythmic precision and of course interaction with the orchestra was a match made in the sea. The conductor had, with relief, calmed down by this point and perhaps the wonderfully enraptured classical style helped this. Although I was overwhelmingly impressed by our leading trumpet, I do feel that his entrance of notes at the beginning of phrases after long pauses were never fully secure or accurate. The most modern piece in the programme was an ultra-modern work by Turnage, written specifically for Hakan, where he once again controlled the piece. The transferral of percussion from one side of the stage to the other created an eerie mood – which the CBSO can do very well. The timbre of the trumpet shows a dark and heavy sound which is ultimately the intention of the composer. The improvisation which was largely jazz-influenced seemed to once again excite the conductor – but I will forgive him this time. A passionate and powerful performance.

From the trumpeter in his very eccentrically trendy coat blowing kisses to the orchestra like he was a rock-star to the romantic prowess of La Mer, “the sea” in French (and the most romantic language) to the conductor giving the audience a Latvian love song as an encore and of course the wonderful portrayal of the sea, tonight was wonderful, so thank you CBSO.

By Jacques Domican-Bird aged 16

Jacques attended a performance of the CBSO conducted by Andris Nelson with Hakan Hardenberger, trumpet on 26th Setpember 2009 at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

Britten: Peter Grimes – Four Sea interludes & Passacaglia Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E flat Turnage: From the Wreckage Debussy: La Mer