Classical review: SCO - Paris Masterworks, Glasgow

IT may only last minutes, but Mozart’s Symphony In G, No 32 packs a shedload of charismatic content and energy that belies its brevity. It is effectively, with all three “movements” running into each other, a concert overture.

SCO conductor Joseph Swensen. Picture: Sandy Young
SCO conductor Joseph Swensen. Picture: Sandy Young

SCO: Paris Masterworks

City Halls, Glasgow

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As such, and given the fresh and incisive delivery it received from the SCO under Joseph Swensen, it served its heraldic purpose as the opener to last night’s concert.

It was also a perfect appetiser for the same composer’s Concerto for flute and harp, in which Swensen and the orchestra were joined by SCO principal flute Alison Mitchell and Israeli harpist Sivan Magen. Even to today’s acclimatised ears, the ringing presence of the harp in such familiar Mozartian textures can seem like a celestial cuckoo in the nest. Yet Magen’s needle-sharp definition and rhythmic energy was a perfect match for Mitchell’s sweet and persuasive tone, and Swensen’s crystalline, driven approach.

The second half of the programme opened with Magen again in the spotlight, this time as soloist with the SCO strings in Debussy’s Danses Sacrée et Profane, a lilting Impressionistic journey that was cool respite between the sunny Mozartian zeal and ensuing performance of Bizet’s youthfully exuberant Symphony in C. Swensen captured the busy essence of the Bizet – its rhythmic excitement, its ravishing melodies and such imaginative quirks as the cascading pizzicato scales that underpin the floating oboe solo in the Adagio. These were luminous performances, distinguished by stylistic finesse and textural definition.