You could tell Robin Ticciati and the SCO have been living with this programme for the past couple of weeks. They have been trawling this cool and attractive package of Wagner, Mozart and Beethoven around Europe’s concert halls in a major concert tour.
SCO: Pires plays Mozart
City Halls, Glasgow
Star rating: * * * *
Last night, the mature fruits of that nurturing were plain to see.
Quality of sound was the watchword of the opening half, a super-refined pairing of Wagner’s sumptuous Siegfried Idyll with the elegantly personable playfulness of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D, K453.
Ticciati’s Wagner was as smooth as silk, played with immaculate sensitivity, the SCO’s musical director drawing every ounce of delicate detail and emotional nuance from its pages. Joining them for the Mozart was the diminutive Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires, whose pristine interpretation was a glorious combination of stylistic reserve and contained excitement.
That’s not to say she ignored this particular concerto’s obvious operatic leanings, but the real magic here was Pires’s ability to communicate powerfully through deliberate understatement, and the SCO’s perceptive response to that.
The same qualities gave the final work – Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony – a wonderfully fresh appeal. Complete with natural horns, trumpets, trombones and old-style timpani, there was a gutsy, rustic flavour to this performance, matched by some quirky, folksy touches from the strings. But always held together with golden finesse.