In this latest Lighthouse concert, a much-loved concerto was framed by two masterpieces of French orchestral writing; one strikingly evocative, the other a maverick and sensational excursion into the realm of psychedelia.

Robert Treviño
© DR

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor occupied most of the first half and gave Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma a scintillating opportunity to ply her 1718 Stradivarius. Overall, there was much to admire in her rendition and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, under the rising American conductor Robert Treviño, was superbly supportive. But the intensity of the opening bars, somewhat hectic and lacking in refinement, was a sign of things to come in a performance that ventured to the very edges of her technique. At times in the opening movement there was a tendency to rush and while this was presumably intended to underline the appassionato marking, it created some questionable intonation and climaxes sounded forced and volatile.

In more retrospective passages Lamsma produced a pellucid tone with beautifully calibrated dynamics and was beguilingly tender in the Andante, now poised and songful with some attempts to probe its emotional core. There was plenty of exhilaration in the finale and, if not as pulse-raising as some performances, it was endowed with spirit and sensitivity. Treviño kept firm control over balance but didn’t suppress orchestral detail, so clarinets sparkled and the sweeping countermelody from lower strings and horns was spun with affection. Lamsma returned to the platform to give the “Malinconia” movement of Eugène Ysaÿe’s Second Violin Sonata – its plainsong Dies irae chant, submerged beneath its virtuosic detail, cleverly anticipated its return for the Berlioz.

Earlier, Treviño and the Bournemouth players gave a handsome account of Debussy’s “Rondes de printemps”  (from Images, for orchestra); celesta and two harps were prominent, as were the unconventionally-positioned viola players who had swapped places with the cellists. Fluid and well-paced, Treviño ensured ample colour and vitality, breathing subtle and varied life into Debussy’s impressionistic soundscape.

Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique is anything but impressionistic – certainly dreamy at times, but its startling images are vividly-drawn and were here brilliantly realised in a barnstorming performance by the Bournemouth players. The opium-induced hallucinations of “Rêveries” could have been more veiled and mysterious at the start (it was too loud too soon), but Treviño nicely conjured its sense of longing and drew fabulously clean tone from the strings. He fashioned effective contrast between despair and elation in the ensuing “Passions” and excellent rapport between first violins and flute for the idée fixe. Climaxes were superbly integrated and Berlioz’s fevered imagination – his delirious agonies and jealous rages – given full expression. Harp and strings brought polish to the “Ball” scene, played with warmth and fondness, and so contagious was the playing that little imagination was required to summon swirling gowns and Parisian glamour. Cor anglais and oboe made companionable and eloquent shepherds in the “Scène aux champs”, its quiet passages all the more intense for their focus and the thunderstorm (nothing distant here) was electrifying. Suitably baleful horns initiated the “March to the Scaffold”: wonderfully paced, with confident, gutsy playing, brass rasping, woodwind wailing and a cinematic execution. The BSO hurled itself at the “Dream of the Night of the Sabbath”, its demented phantasmagoria brilliantly served by an orchestra who relished every detail of Berlioz’s novel orchestration, not least the clamorous tubular bells and tubas that sliced the air with their medieval plainchant. Throughout, Treviño had coaxed playing of unfailing commitment and assurance – excitement like this should be on prescription!