Classical review: BBC SSO: Matthias Pintscher, Glasgow

When the single most familiar composer on the programme is Pierre Boulez – who celebrates his 90th birthday this month – you know you are in uncharted musical territory. The rest of Saturday’s Hear and Now programme by the BBC SSO, under the ever-explorative Matthais Pintscher, introduced intriguingly obscure names: Serbian Marko Nikodijevic, Slovenian Vito Žuraj and German Manfred Trojahn.

Matthias Pintscher took his audience on a tour of the obscure
Matthias Pintscher took his audience on a tour of the obscure
Matthias Pintscher took his audience on a tour of the obscure

BBC SSO: Matthias Pintscher - City Halls, Glasgow

* * * *

It was one of the most refreshing contemporary orchestral programmes in a long time. The range and diversity of the music, elements of wit, profundity and unflinching individuality, combined to make the evening a refreshing experience all round.

There was a sense of journey – the ultimate goal being the performance of Boulez’s …explosante/fixe in the form he created in the 1990s for three flutes (one sampled live through computer) and chamber ensemble. Roy Amotz on midi flute, and Michael Cox and Yvonne Paterson as “shadow flutes”, led a performance that found both clarity and density in the work’s unrelenting busyness and wraparound electronics.

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Pintscher opened with Nikodijevic’s Cvetić, Kućica, a work of often frustratingly low-key dynamics, but sustained by its beautifully defined undulating textures. Trojahn’s Herbstmusik was a robust, hi-definition response, its inspiration drawn from Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony, but driven by its own explosive energy and ideas.

Žuraj’s horn concerto Hawk-eye was both a circus act for soloist Saar Berger and a wonderful piece of light entertainment in an uncompromising contemporary style. It unleashed sounds from the horn no-one ever thought existed. They do now.

Seen on 28 .02.15