It was a busy night for Katherine Bryan. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s principal flautist was out front as soloist in no less than two concertos in the concert’s first half – ‘one brand new, the other stolen,’ she quipped – and then back among the orchestra’s ranks after the interval.
That “stolen” concerto was Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, whose original solo violin Bryan had very convincingly replaced with a solo flute in her own arrangement. She gave a mesmerising, focused performance that grabbed the attention and never let go, every note – even in her rhapsodic flutterings up and down the instrument – carefully articulated with meaning.
RSNO/Arild Remmereit, Katherine Bryan ****
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Her “brand new” concerto was by Glasgow-born composer Martin Suckling, a friend of Bryan’s since childhood. The White Road, getting its first performance, was a sonic feast, seething with microtones and ear-baffling orchestral sonorities – wailing woodwind, clangorous percussion – but held together by a firm but eloquent structure that set Bryan in a succession of ritualistic conversations with the orchestra. There was a definite Japanese tinge to her shakuhachi-like note-bending and the sudden cracks and thuds from percussion, and she gave a thrillingly dramatic performance – from memory – even seeming to spit her instrument out in passages of sudden violence.
Norwegian conductor Arild Remmereit, replacing an indisposed Peter Oundjian, provided immaculate support in both concertos but things declined in a Ravel Daphnis et Chloé that he just couldn’t make gel – sluggish in its slow music, and with climaxes raucous rather than radiant: a disappointing end to what had begun as a wonderfully provocative, rewarding evening.