Music review: BBC SSO, City Halls, Glasgow

SSO chief conductor Thomas Dausgaard
SSO chief conductor Thomas Dausgaard
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PRIOR to next week’s five-concert tour of Germany, Italy and Austria, the BBC SSO performed a dress rehearsal on Thursday of the programme it will present abroad under chief conductor Thomas Dausgaard; though in place of next week’s actual soloist, the wonderful Nikolaj Znaider, we heard stand-in Russian violinist, Alexandra Soumm in Brahms’ Violin Concerto.

BBC SSO / Alexandra Soumm ***

City Halls, Glasgow

To be honest, she wasn’t very good. A splashy attempt at the opening movement, and her failure to muster enough sound and tone, left this mammoth movement wanting. Things certainly improved in the final two movements, where Soumm’s manic energy finally translated into a serviceable connection with the music, though the real treat was the warm, soulful stream of thought informing Stella McCracken’s gorgeous oboe solo in the Adagio.

The members of the orchestra sounded at odds with one another in the opening performance of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. This has been a prevailing issue under Dausgaard’s stewardship: uncertainty of attack and, in the case of the opening few minutes, a blatant premature horn entry.

As the Interludes progressed, the ensemble knitted more effectively, but this was a strange interpretation: on the one hand vigorous and attitudinal; on the other, emotionally cold and oddly balanced.

More effective overall was Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony, which Dausgaard presented as one continuous sweep – no pauses between movements. There were still minor issues of balance –string melodies subsumed by brass and wind – but there was natural effervescence here and, importantly, collective vision.