Rattle’s beloved Sibelius concluded the concert. [...] This time round, quite simply I was on the edge of my seat, lifted by the sheer vividness of the emotive sonic pictorialism and the sense of sincere, committed celebration of this music that the LSO and Rattle communicated.
The journey from mystery to majesty was utterly compelling. The horn’s call and bassoons’ response of the opening bars seemed to sail to us direct from the still centre of a Scandinavian forest, while the timpani’s quiet trembling had a primordial and prophetic air. Vast open spaces unfolded, carrying us across landscapes and through narratives, as Rattle turned motionlessness into movement, seemingly static patterns evolving into such an organic, unstoppable impetus that by the ‘Scherzo’ we were surfing on a magic carpet of joy.
Rattle again conducted from memory; indeed, he didn’t so much as ‘conduct’ – there weren’t many indications of a ‘beat’ as such – as guide his players through a landscape that they know so well and love. But, that’s not to suggest that there was no laser-vision or attention to detail: time and again I was surprised when a gesture or glance flew lightly but commandingly in the direction of a particular player or section, with minimal means but immediate effect, coaxing a little more colour, weight, import.