Two very different sides to Shostakovich – the populist entertainer and the serious symphonist – provided the framework to this RSNO programme, directed by Dutch conductor Lawrence Renes. And from that came two very different modes of performance, the joyous frivolity of the Suite for Variety Stage Orchestra, and the biting self-expression and gnawing exhilaration of the Symphony No 10.
RSNO: Lawrence Renes - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
* * * *
In the broader sense it was also a game of two halves, Shostakovich’s music hall extravaganza finding the perfect first-half bed partner in Gershwin’s jazz-driven Rhapsody in Blue, with the flamboyant American pianist Terrence Wilson as soloist.
Rene’s’ clinical, energetic beat generated charismatic warmth and attack from the orchestra, the opening of the Shostakovich Suite exploding like a firecracker, its fruity scoring – with added banks of saxophones, a guitar and accordion – filling the hall with electrifying razzmatazz, and setting the scene for the ensuing medley of cheekily transfigured dance numbers.
In the Gershwin, its mood perfectly captured by clarinettist Josef Pacewicz’s opening glissando swoop, the focus fell on Wilson, whose combination of crisp virtuosity and loose-limbed swagger set the temperature soaring, and the music swinging. His encore – Arcadi Volodos’s intoxicating paraphrase on Mozart’s Turkish Rondo – was a thrill a minute.
Renes’ taut beat occasionally frustrated the music’s fluidity, but in the Shostakovich symphony, where feverish tension plays so major a role, it fired a brutish, trenchant response. Gutsy playing from the RSNO, even if the tempi laboured in parts.
Seen on 16.05.14