SCO and Lukáš Vondráček, City Halls, Glasgow ***
There can only be a handful of pianists, let alone conductors, who know Dvorak’s only Piano Concerto. Clearly, Vondráček does. His performance was engaging from the outset, the fingers working like industrial power tools on Dvorak’s busy, intricate writing, while drawing out the rich melodic lines and nuanced textures with an instinctive sense of context and function.
It’s not the easiest concerto to digest; in fact, I’m not convinced it holds itself on a par with the composer’s better known works for solo violin and cello. The substance is uneven, the thread meandering at times and the thrill factor not quite vintage Dvorak. But it was worth an airing, especially in such sincere hands.
The best performance of the night came at the start: Brahms Hungarian Dances Nos 17-21 (arranged by Dvorak), delivered with electrifying rhythmic bite and raw, bucolic colourings by the SCO. Brahms’ Third Symphony, while fresh, clean and fascinatingly balanced in favour of the winds by Swensen, lacked the precision he elicited from his recent Beethoven performances.