Music review: RSNO: Pics at Exhibition, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Pianist Dejan Lazic. Picture: Contributed
Pianist Dejan Lazic. Picture: Contributed
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IT MAY be two years since pianist Dejan Lazić last played with the RSNO, but it’s a memory that has never faded. On that occasion he was teamed up with the orchestra’s principal guest conductor Thomas Søndergård. The repeat appearance of that partnership on Saturday produced another memorable success.

RSNO: Pics at Exhibition

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Star rating: ****

This time the concerto was Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2, and a performance that was typical of Lazić: poetic, but neither sickly nor sentimental. His is an incisive mind with an incisive touch. Every note had crystalline intention, moulded into phrases of infinite shading and subtly. The long opening movement, despite its inherent compositional troughs, bore a driven power tinged with magical delicacies; the slow movement had equal measures of fluidity and breadth; the finale, laced with touching nods to Polish folk music, was a virtuosic tour de force.

It was all the more interesting for what led into it, the Overture from Lazić’s own Piano Concerto in Istrian Style. It touches on so many piano concerto traditions - from “big tune’ Rachmaninov and steely Shostakovich (the widely-spaced unisons on the piano) to incendiary Bartok-like folk-rhythms - so that the feeling is one of being intoxicated by a mind-bending stylistic cocktail.

The spotlight turned to Søndergård in the second half, and to Ravel’s unrivalled orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I’ve rarely heard it delivered with such sensitivity to textural detail. It was like a super-concentrate, rhythmically focused, and seething with descriptive colour and crunching impact.