Classical: BBC SSO: Beethoven’s Seventh - City Halls, Glasgow

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I’ve mentioned before, there’s a hint of Boulez in the clean-cut analytical manner Matthias Pintscher adopts as a conductor.

BBC SSO: Beethoven’s Seventh - City Halls, Glasgow

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It was there again in his concert last night with the BBC SSO. But this wasn’t a programme that sat entirely comfortably with such a microscopic approach.

It did work exceptionally well in Lutoslawski’s madcap Concerto for cello and orchestra, a work written for Rostropovich in 1970, which requires needle-sharp precision and force of character to fully embrace its crunching extremes and Quixotic eccentricities.

Pintscher had the perfect collaborator in soloist Johannes Moser, who didn’t just play the piece; he acted out the role of protagonist with Oscar-winning panache.

The nagging Ds that open the work on the solo cello were served up with a visibly nagging belligerence – like a musical version of Chinese water torture – to which the orchestra’s growing response was just as antagonistic.

This isn’t Lutoslawski’s most lyrical music, but as this performance illustrated, it is a brilliant example of theatre without words, an animated sound world, all of which was lucid and explosive under Pintscher’s virile direction and thoroughly personified in Moser’s highly physical interpretation.

Against that, Weber’s Invitation to the Dance was brittle and unyielding – although Pintscher’s approach favoured, to some extent, the eccentric shock treatment of Berlioz’s delineating orchestration. But there really wasn’t enough natural ebb and flow in the overture to Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.

As for Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, Pintscher seemed happy enough to let it surge ahead with unsentimental persistence, but that in turn left many moments – the hurried Allegretto, for instance – short in heartfelt gravitas.

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