Classical review: SCO: Rossen Gergov, Glasgow

This SCO programme had one piece too many. It wasn’t a question of length, though this concert did stray into the post-9:30pm zone that gets bus-catchers twitching.

Rossen Gergov. Picture: Ekisei Sonoda

SCO: Rossen Gergov - City Halls, Glasgow

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But more a question of balance and the sense that Haydn’s quirky Horn Signal Symphony had already produced a concert-ending sensation that amply complemented the exhaustive coupling of Dvorak and Ligeti in the opening half.

So, while there was academic logic in framing the entire evening with five of Dvorak’s Op72 Slavonic Dances and five of the Op46 ones, it didn’t work in practice.

That aside, this was a concert taken over last minute by the Bulgarian conductor Rossen Gergov, who replaced the indisposed Robin Ticciati with complete assurance and individuality. His readings of the Dvorak dances were subtle and dynamic, fuelled by an innate understanding of the music’s folk-infused rhythms and its fizzing, fragrant colours.

And with soloist Tasmin Little, in Ligeti’s translucent Violin Concerto, his sensitive control of its beguiling textures – the eerie wailing of the ocarinas, or the unnerving string clusters that surround the solo violin like an intricate gossamer web – was needle-sharp and compelling, backed up by Little’s immaculate, filigree interpretation.

The Haydn symphony was a theatrical triumph, not least the way its integrated solo spots showcased individual virtuosity within the SCO. It was a precipitous, not faultless, journey for the natural horns, a sense of danger that added to the excitement. It should all have ended there.

Seen on 21.03.14