It’s been a week of Scandinavian musical supremacy. First, conductor Thomas Dausgaard in electrifying form with the BBC SSO; then the RSNO’s Swedish principal guest conductor, Thomas Søndergård, whipping up exhilarating sounds in an entirely Austro-German programme of Haydn, Mendelssohn and Brahms.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
The latter could so easily have gone the other way, given the irregularity with which the RSNO tackles Haydn, or the inherent temptation in Mendelssohn’s Piano concerto No 1 to let its surface virtuosity overheat, ignoring such golden moments as the velvety lower string accompaniment mid-journey.
Søndergård fell into neither trap. His Haydn – the wholesomely colourful Symphony No 99 – was an invigorating mix of hearty energy and textural precision. And what glorious playing from the woodwind in the serenade-like Adagio, just one of many moments filling this classy performance with definitive characterisation.
Then the most explosive moment of the evening, pianist Dejan Lazić’s electrifying performance of the Mendelssohn. With a touch as powerful and penetrating as a pneumatic drill, and a charisma to match, the course of this sizzling interpretation was defined from the word go, with Søndergård ever alert to heating up the orchestral undercurrent at the right moments.
Not surprisingly, the ensuing Brahms Fourth Symphony was airborne, brisk and full of sparkle. Søndergård’s knitting together of the Andante’s lengthy melodic strands was sublime, but general urgency of pace elsewhere tainted so many good intentions with hard-edged abrasiveness.
It just lacked that soul-searching blanket of warmth.