Music review: Brussels Philharmonic & Nikolaj Znaider, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Nikolaj Znaider
Nikolaj Znaider
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You can see why Nikolaj Znaider and Stéphane Denève get on so well – as Znaider explained in these pages barely a week ago, both the violin soloist and conductor in this compelling concert from the Brussels Philharmonic clearly share the same fastidious ear for detail and crystal-clear articulation, but without ever being pedantic or pernickety.

Brussels Phil / Nikolaj Znaider, Usher Hall, Edinburgh *****

Znaider’s Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 was a thing of wonder from start to finish, etched with piercing clarity but full of big emotions, fearsomely focused but played with a voluptuous sense of give and take - all of which was reflected impeccably in the Brussels musicians’ vigorous playing.

After the interval, Denève brought a wonderful suavity to his own collection of movements from Prokofiev’s Cinderella, delivered with a depth and richness to match his precision. And he was in his element – as were the Brussels players – in Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, surging ever forward with barely contained enthusiasm.

It was the concert’s opener and wild card – Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Passchendaele, played on Remembrance Sunday and a century after the battle it memorialises – that will stay longest in the memory, in Denève’s sensual yet monumental reading that gently led the ear through the work’s anger, sadness and nobility. A remarkable concert, full of joy and compassion.