Music review: BBC SSO & Martyn Brabbins
BBC SSO & Martyn Brabbins, City Halls, Glasgow ****
One can see easily why Tippett shelved the experimental Symphony in B flat. The first two movements bear no resemblance to his later, more familiar style; more a searching exercise in assimilating the dominating influence of Sibelius with flashes of Delian harmonies in the opening bars and, once in a while, modal inflexions reminiscent of Vaughan Williams.
Ideas come and go like sporadic gusts of wind, though this performance – meatily executed by the SSO under Brabbins – made the most of its arching climaxes and restful moments of pastoral quiescence.
The final movement marked a turning point, where all of a sudden Tippett’s own voice – those beguiling false relation harmonies so characteristic of his later works – takes flight, and a signature assurance sets in.
After a double dose of luminescent Mozart – the Horn Concerto No 4 and short Rondo featuring SSO principal horn Alberto Menéndez Escribano – Stravinsky’s Petrushka emerged as the highlight of the evening: stirring, pungent, bursting with blistering colour and lightning clarity.