For many of a certain age, Khachaturian’s Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia will always remain synonymous with the 70s TV production of The Onedin Line – the sheer sweep and majesty of the music suited the splendour of a tall ship crashing through the waves to perfection. And, as an opener to this evening’s concert at Poole’s Lighthouse, perhaps seemed a fitting link with this nautical theme, even though the composition itself actually accompanies a nocturnal love scene in the ballet from which this extract is taken!

Nikita Boriso-Glebsky © IMG Artists
Nikita Boriso-Glebsky
© IMG Artists

Marković directed the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in both an elegant and dramatic performance of the work. Smooth and lush strings, coupled with immaculate and delicate woodwind playing, gradually built to a breathtaking climax, albeit slightly rushed. As always, leader Amyn Merchant delivered an exquisite and beautifully-judged violin solo to round off the piece.

Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor has similar qualities to his Spartacus ballet music in its lyricism and drama with some fine melodic writing for the instrument (being clearly influenced by Armenian folk music). The young and exceptionally gifted violinist, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, who rose to fame after winning both the International Jean Sibelius Violin and International Fritz Kreisler competitions in 2010, treated us to a truly remarkable performance. The rhythmic power and energy of the first movement was captured to perfection by Glebsky and the orchestra alike, surmounting the dashing twists and turns in the scoring with ease, in a performance which held the audience rapt. The more luxurious, Armenian folksong flavouring of the second theme was enjoyed to the full by Glebsky whose virtuosity and skill were truly awesome.

The second movement Andante sostenuto is a showcase of Khachaturian’s melodic writing.  Glebsky’s playing was both passionate and heartfelt, squeezing the very most from the music’s rich Armenian exoticism, whilst still being of featherweight delicacy when required. Marković led the BSO in a vigorous and energetic Armenian dance in the Allegro vivace, a movement of furious energy and rowdy abandonment. Glebsky’s playing was jaunty and playful throughout with incredible clarity being maintained even in the intricate solo part-writing. All in all, a stellar performance.

With his Symphony no. 7 (also in D minor), Dvořák’s aim was to create “a work that was capable of stirring the world”. An intense first movement, replete with grand flourishes and drama, was delivered with boldness by the BSO under Marković, adroitly capturing the insistent passion of the piece; the delicacy and lightness of the contrasting passages was also finely judged without ever losing cohesion, as well as his skilful handling of the numerous sudden dynamic and tempi changes throughout.

The serenity and repose of the opening to the second movement was both elegant and well-balanced between orchestral sections; we were also treated to some exceptionally smooth and rich horn playing. As the drama took off, the BSO was ever responsive to the demands of the music, delivering both a passionate and insistently rhythmic performance. A beautifully played oboe solo rounded off the movement. The Scherzo, with its hypnotic 6/4 against 3/2 cross-rhythms, had a freedom and joie de vivre which perfectly typified Dvořák’s intention, his inspiration being the Czech furiant. The Finale is a powerhouse of energy and thrills; a weighty, but never heavy, performance was delivered with crisp precision by Marković, whose podium direction was impressively athletic. Despite this movement’s variety in style, tempi and dynamics, its cohesion and drive to the triumphant conclusion was never lost, with an exhilarating ride to the finish.