The SCO often throws its own constituent talent into the limelight; in this case a threesome plucked from its wind principals - clarinettist Maximiliano Martin, bassoonist Peter Whelan and chief horn Alec Frank-Gemmill - who took solo roles in a programme engineered to capitalise on their strengths.
SCO / Maximiliano Martin / Peter Whelan / Alec Frank-Gemmill ****
City Halls, Glasgow
Martin and Whelan were first up in Richard Strauss’ Duet Concertino, giving a performance, under Robin Ticciati, that oozed wit, charisma and a fair bit of play-acting.
The twin protagonists engaged in a narrative expressed in instrumental rather than human terms, which our duo conveyed as much through suggestive bodily movement and expression as through their effortless unravelling of Strauss’ beguiling and affectionate music.
The other Strauss work was his ebullient Horn Concerto No 2. Gemmill’s opening flourish established a spellbinding exuberance that fed through the three upbeat movements to the rich army of horns that blast out the final bars. Beneath the glistening veneer, and Gemmill’s ripe virtuosic delivery, there were melting moments from the SCO, which gave ravishing stability to Strauss’ restlessly intertwining orchestral textures.
Both works were separated by Anna Meredith’s brief Fringeflower, inspired by the soft overlapping textures of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s watercolour “Butterfly Flower”, which the composer translates into a hypnotic collusion of the frenetic and the static. This performance sought out its enchamntment.
The charm of Schubert’s Symphony No 1 lies in its harmonic imperfections. Ticciati’s neatly coiffured reading softened these, without losing any of the music’s youthful bravado.