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Arts reviews: No angst and disaster from Langree; CBSO Symphony Hall.

Byline: Clare Mackney

'Sturm und Drang', angst and even disaster -all common perceptions of Mozart's Symphony No.5 (his first in a minor key), but evidently not ones shared by Mozart specialist, conductor Louis Langree.

However, although yesterday's performance from CBSO strings was burnished and light-footed, the reading was not lightweight. A pert but purposeful finale, a clipped, businesslike Minuetto and lovely, languorous melancholy in the Andante were all highly charged with character, but it was the opening Allegro, despite its exhilarating tautness, that lacked a touch of darkness and angularity. More significant opportunities for interpretive colour were lost to less-than-sparkling woodwind, and the horns' distracting spatter of split notes.

In comparison, soprano Rosemary Joshua extracted every imaginable drop of contrast and vitality from four Mozart arias, her immaculate vocal control and versatility supporting a persuasive delivery that was dramatic without histrionics, eloquent and moving.

The emotional momentum launched by Joshua gathered pace through a hugely satisfying account of Beethoven's Symphony No.7, one fuelled primarily by superb strings and Langree's energy, but firmly supported by woodwind and brass, form now largely recovered.

A fresh perspective was the key here, a strikingly weighty, significant slower central section in the Presto and an almost austere but highly charged Andante being its most obvious features. Inevitably perhaps, the real buzz came with the faster movements, the skill lying in the combination of uninhibited romp with incisiveness, sensitivity and observation of detail.

Repeated tonight, 7.30pm.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 29, 2004
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