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Culture: Delightful and captivating; CBSO Symphony Hall.

Byline: Christopher Morley

Though its thunder has been stolen by more renowned examples he composed in Vienna during the mid-1780s, Mozart's piano concerto K456 in B-flat major is a little gem that deserves to be heard more often.

Imogen Cooper's account with the CBSO on Wednesday was utterly delightful, captivating even before she started playing, so immersed was she in the music right from the very beginning. As the slimmed-down ensemble turned Mozart's phrases warmly and elegantly, woodwind and horns a positive presence in the inexhaustible detail of this intimate sound-world, Cooper's body-language already painted a picture.

And her pianism, equally warm, sweetly articulated, added eloquent colours, darker shadings bringing portents of The Marriage of Figaro (not least in the sad little melody of the andante). In the finale it was wonderful to see how Cooper enjoyed Mozart's gleeful scrunches as this engaging music approached its conclusion.

Conductor Louis Langree set slightly too treacly an opening tempo for Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, and although this gave space for Bruckner's well-articulated counterpoints to tell, magnificently from the horns, it took a while for the music's momentum to build - until, conversely, the mighty, roaring coda was skated over.

There were similar disappointments in the finale, when sturdily sculpted lines were eventually rushed into a swift ending which carried no weight.

But the inner movements in this alpine journey to celestial reaches were wonderfully delivered, Wagner tubas noble in the well-built adagio, Jonathan Holland's trumpet heroically riding driving strings in the grisly scherzo.

Repeated tomorrow (7pm). Running time 2 hours 10 minutes.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 4, 2005
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