Classical review: BBC SSO, Glasgow

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra excelled in an evening devoted to music from Scandinavia. Picture: Contributed

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra excelled in an evening devoted to music from Scandinavia. Picture: Contributed

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WITH the rise in popularity of Nordic crime dramas, Scotland and Scandinavia have developed a closeness that goes beyond our shared tolerance of dark skies and bad weather.

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

City Halls, Glasgow

****

The latest in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s afternoon series took us back to an earlier period of cultural dominance in the northern hemisphere, with a programme of Grieg, Sibelius and Stenhammar.

Grieg’s Peer Gynt was originally written at the behest of fellow Norwegian Henrik Ibsen, who needed to appease audiences with an appetite for music during their evening of theatre. As such, the work is a rich tapestry of drama, pathos and adventure. The six interludes played here included the infamous opening movement, Morning, reclaimed from its ubiquitous use in advertisements and sounding more beautiful than ever.

Equally popular, In the Hall of the Mountain King is often used to introduce younger listeners to classical music – but the climax gets the pulse racing, whatever your age.

American violinist Stefan Jackiw joined the orchestra for Sibelius’ Six Humoresques. A young soloist who throws everything into his performance, he produces a truly exquisite sound.

Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar wanted to write music with “no frills”, and his Symphony No. 2 certainly gets straight to the point. Arresting and dramatic, there are also deeply moving moments of sweet sorrow.

It’s hard to imagine anyone better placed to lead this holy trinity of early 20th century Nordic composers than Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu – a man whose physical body in action is almost as entertaining as the body of work he’s in charge of steering.

Seen on 12.03.15

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