Concert review: Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Royal Scottish National Orchestra Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ***
We've known Walter Weller long enough to appreciate his strengths and weaknesses. We know, for instance, that the RSNO's conductor emeritus gets the best out of the orchestra's strings; that he intuitively lives and breathes the music of his native Vienna. But there are times, too, when his connection with the players can seem at odds with the music; where the end result can be lacklustre.
A degree of the latter fed through much of an attractively conceived, essentially Viennese programme that had its finest moments in the juicy post-Mahler modernism of Zemlinsky's Sinfonietta, but which struggled to achieve the finer detail and gravitas of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony.
Nor did it help to make Nicola Benedetti's performance of Erich Korngold's sparkling Violin Concerto the glittering affair it deserved to be.
Benedetti, herself, captured its golden melodies (stolen from Korngold's own Hollywood film scores), its spontaneous thrills and lustrous warmth, and the eccentricities of its final bars, with easeful charm.
It's a new work for her, which she wisely played with the music, thus avoiding the memory lapses that have plagued some of her recent concerto performances. But it was a pity that the qualities allowing her to shine – crisp athleticism and incisive passion – were met with less dynamism by Weller and the orchestra.
This came as a surprise after the acid cocktail of the Zemlinsky, all deliciously shaken and served by Weller. As for the Beethoven, it never properly recovered from a thin, apprehensive, four-square start.
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