Manchester Evening News 4 Star B9 Review

Posted on February 1, 2011

Manchester Camerata at The Bridgewater Hall // Saturday January 29, 2011

It was a fitting finale to the series of Beethoven symphony performances that Douglas Boyd has conducted – and simultaneously put on record – with Manchester Camerata over his near-decade as music director.

The earlier symphonies have been characterized by incisive articulation, careful phrasing and lively speeds – and the results have been exceptional.

For the ninth, Boyd did not deviate from his path. Others may treat it as prototype Wagner or Mahler, but not he.

The performance was electric: a little nervous, perhaps, in the opening movement but crisp and determined, clarity balanced with resonance.

The scherzo was energetic and punchy. For Douglas Boyd, tempo is more a state of mind than a speedometer reading, and the Adagio glowed with melodic shape and structural rhythm.

The finale was extraordinary – a huge dynamic range, from a whisper as the Ode To Joy theme began to a triumphant paean. The CBSO Chorus excelled themselves, putting heart and soul into the task. It really was about joy.

Richard Howarth returned to his old role as Camerata leader for this final Beethoven cycle recording, but I should not forget to praise his successor, Giovanni Guzzo, who led the new Manchester Camerata Quartet in Beethoven’s op. 18 no. 1. It was an inspired programme choice, contrasting intimacy with the symphony’s grandeur.

This concert will be available to watch online via Medici TV (free for 60 days) from w/c 7 February
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