The Times 11th January 2007
Hilary Finch at The Symphony Hall, Birmingham
At the centre, Richard Strauss’s Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra — and, on either side of this late-flowering bloom of the composer’s Indian Summer, music from the vanished world of which he dreamt, and which he both celebrated and mourned in works such as Rosenkavalier and Metamorphosen.
Nicholas Daniel was the soloist — and his playing was the very embodiment of that “classical” spirit that Strauss exuberantly and nostalgically transformed in the filigree of his imagination. A levitating caprice of a first movement, every tone and texture exquisitely balanced by Oramo, led to Daniel’s long-breathed arioso of a slow movement. His oboe’s tone, modulated by virtuoso breath control, became ever richer and more intense, ending in an enraptured half-voice.
Daniel, who is spending more and more of his time conducting, seemed to be vicariously living every second of every orchestral part too. And in the finale, the sensitivity of his chamber-musical relationship with his woodwind colleagues was both touching and illuminating.