The Gourlay/FWSO Firebird cast a magic spell start to finish. Quieter music was exquisitely shaped and detailed, even pianissimos at the threshold of audibility charged with electricity. By contrast, the “Infernal Dance” burst on the scene with savage intensity. It was some of the finest playing I can remember from this orchestra.
The work of Gourlay and the OSCyL was immeasurable: the fine-tuning to which the conductor submitted each phrase, each piano, each pause or each ritardando seemed astonishing to me. The interpretation flashed like a Bernini sculpture, exhaustively polished, almost obsessive, from everything to do with the sound balance to the most subtle of dynamics, full of drama conceived entirely by design.
The musicians, who played wonderfully all evening, were conducted by Andrew Gourlay in his American debut. He brought an economy of motion to the podium, but produced dazzling results.
Colours and harmonic tensions were played out brilliantly and with seismographic sensitivity. Clarity and sophistication without indulgence characterized his approach to Dvořak’s symphony no.8 in G major. The waiving of gimmickry shaped his interpretation and made for an enormously compelling performance. The climaxes of the first movement were powerful, the interplay between winds and strings rhythmically precise, the melodic arcs of the second movement contemplative and mystical, and the third and fourth movements simply magnificent.
Andrew Gourlay is a star in the ascendant. He scraped off the crust of over-familiarity from Tchaikovsky’s score with the briskness of a man brushing frost from his car windscreen. Gourlay conducted with the lightest of touches that paradoxically revealed Nutcracker’s kernel of darkness.
I became completely emotionally consumed by this performance, bold and vivid, tremendous and overwhelming.
It is quite some time since we heard a concert of such quality… A performance that will be remembered as extraordinary.
This conductor alternates sweetness and tension; ebbing and flowing whilst maintaining a beautiful precision within the musical line... what an amazing roller-coaster ride! Let’s rejoice: Andrew Gourlay will be returning in January.
This was an overwhelming performance with the Hallé musicians performing with remarkable commitment and energy. I wonder if we should be hailing Andrew Gourlay as the new Barbirolli.
One wonders what the future now holds for Andrew Gourlay. The impression was of the emergence of an exciting young conductor with tremendous potential.
The great formal arc of the long, lamenting first movement was expertly realised, the splenetic terseness of the tiny scherzo all one would hope for, and the encrypted narrative structure offered itself vividly to the imagination.
The CBSO under Andrew Gourlay played their socks off in what will probably be their most artistically significant performance this year.
Musically the show was a revelation.... this challenging score was superbly played by the CBSO under Andrew Gourlay.