A CHANGE of conductor at the BBC SSO this week did not, thankfully, result in a change of programme. Ilan Volkov, brought in to replace Richard Farnes, kept to the advertised script, which was a mouth-watering Czech/Hungarian cocktail of Janá˘cek, Dvo˘rák and Bartók.
BBC SSO/Joshua Roman
City Halls, Glasgow
At the heart of the programme was American cellist Joshua Roman’s beautifully reflective account of Dvo˘rák’s Cello Concerto, a work we heard only a few weeks ago from Steven Isserlis and the SCO. Roman chose poise and tenderness as his angle of attack, painting Dvo˘rák’s brooding melodies with golden retrospection and mellowness of tone.
That, in turn, inspired Volkov to curb the orchestral volume, and pick out rich nuggets of detail from this kaleidoscopic score. Despite a few rough edges in the big tuttis, where attacks weren’t always unanimous, and the odd moment where the band overpowered the soloist, this warm-hearted collaboration with Roman was refreshingly intuitive.
The concert opened with some well-known Janá˘cek in an equally refreshing context – the conductor Vaclan Talich’s orchestral suite arrangement of music from Janá˘cek’s gem of an opera, The Cunning Little Vixen. Its playfulness, innocence and effervescence have an even greater impact when addressed this way, throwing crystalline focus on the super-sensitive orchestral colourings.
But the big guns were reserved for the second half and a big, brazen account of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. It had punch, panache and pungency, peppered with aching nostalgia in the Elegy, biting satire in the Intermezzo and sheer bombast in the finale.
Seen on 01.05.14