Review: Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra ****

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St George’s Hall, Bradford

In Yorkshire, where we hear so many orchestras on tour, we know that the lesser known ensembles are often better than those with huge reputations. So it was with the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra and their new principal conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada – they were magnificent. They brought to Bradford a rarity – Bruckner’s First Symphony.

The Tonkünstler’s generous tone, sustained intensity, absolute discipline – plus forward motion generated by double basses in a line on the highest riser at the back – were perfect for Bruckner’s gloriously confident music. Its sumptuous sound, like Schubert’s Ninth Symphony orchestrated by Wagner, was radiant with spiritual joy; and what a wonderful way the orchestra had with Bruckner’s abrupt movement endings, leaving this eternally uplifting music silently “streaming in the firmament”.

The prelude to this revelatory performance was Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, itself as weighty and demanding as the Bruckner. The 23-year-old Russian-born American soloist Natasha Paremski played it with exhilaration on a less than full-size and curiously under- resonant piano. She was commanding, quite emphatic and percussive at times, and full of the joy and bounce of Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony mode.