Classical review: BBC SSO, City Halls, Glasgow

The City Halls, Glasgow. Picture: Donald MacLeod
The City Halls, Glasgow. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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MAX Bruch was not a one-hit wonder. Nor even a two-hit wonder if you count his Scottish Fantasia alongside the ever-popular Violin Concerto.

BBC SSO

City Halls, Glasgow

****

And the evidence was there in duplicate on Monday night, as British violinist Jack Liebeck joined the BBC SSO in performances of the outwardly virtuosic Second Violin Concerto (there are actually three) and the gorgeous Konzerstück for violin and orchestra.

These were typical Liebeck performances, a robust and solid delivery characterised by nimble technique and purity of tone. The Violin Concerto No 2 is ferociously difficult, a real showpiece for its original performer (Sarasate), where showmanship and musicianship square up on equal footing.

Liebeck took most of it in his stride and played a boisterous game of duck and dive with conductor Martyn Brabbins, whose control of the orchestral artillery – Bruch hits out with some meaty tuttis – was balsy and bright.

The Konzerstück called for a more reflective response, which Liebeck and the SSO gave in abundance, the violinist’s golden tone drawing myriad nuances from Bruch’s exquisite melodies.

The concert opened with Beethoven’s “Coriolan” Overture, which was interesting in itself as a contrast to last week’s brazen version by the SCO, Olari Elts and an anarchic timpanist. Brabbins chose a more rounded and opulent approach, capturing the pungent theatrical ambiguity of the music without resorting to violence. The overall mood was warm and resilient.

The evening ended with Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture: Romeo and Juliet, unquestionably beautiful music played with all the affection and passion necessary to illustrate that point.

Seen on 08.12.14