It’s the final stretch of the gig for the Guildhall orchestra, the last hour of a pretty intensive two days. The last we see of the two soloists too.
Personally, I love the Sibelius violin concerto so it was a pleasure to hear Rose Hsien play it so consistently well, and at full throttle, throughout the day. As for Arthur Boutillier, it turns out that in my other life as a viola player we played at a random function together as part of a small string group in a conference venue in Watford. So, nice to get to hear him in his more natural environment! What a fantastic by both of them, and every success to them in the future.
As for the two remaining conductors, well Azis Sadikovic didn’t want to leave! Having worked all the way through Charlie Piper’s Fleotan, stopping as little as possible on the way but giving out instructions as he went, he arrived at the end. Lennie Mackenzie told said time up, but the conductor managed to cadge 10 more seconds, just so he could leave the orchestra knowing they had nailed the last couple of bars.
His figure-it-out-as-you-go approach contrasted with Johannes Zurl, so clear in his mind about the sounds he wanted that he was prepared to spend several minutes getting the first few bars just so. But it was Sadikovic’s work in the Dvorak which really impressed. There was no need to stop and rehearse details because he was so careful to show the detail of phrasing and dynamics, so pinpoint in who he was directing his indications to.
It’s the kind of conducting that allows orchestras to sound their best, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m predicting he will go through to tomorrow’s final. I didn’t do so well yesterday, but I’m going to try again today and see if I’ve got any closer to the eminent panel. So here goes: along with Sadikovic, I think the jury will pick Giancarlo Rizzi and Elim Chan. While there were undoubtedly good things all round, and goodness knows I wouldn’t call myself that much of an expert, for me they were the three most distinctive performances of the day.