ROYAL SCOTTISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA
GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
THE RSNO welcomed back its former chief conductor Alexander Lazarev for a concert with a difference. This rather refreshing programme focused first on the band’s wind section for Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Winds before repopulating the stage with the string section for Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.
The musical compatibility was powerful. Besides the common Russian thread – a facet not wasted on the familiar serious-minded showmanship of Lazarev – the lush-green fullness of the Tchaikovsky acted as a welcome release to the dry, wintery charm of the Stravinsky.
While the Tchaikovsky glowed with sweeping wholesomeness, the Stravinsky took too long to establish itself as the gritty, high-voltage example of “anti-music” it effectively is. It is by no means as soulless, though, as this occasionally nervy performance made out.
When the full orchestra came together for a second half performance of Strauss’s intoxicating tone poem Don Quixote, the picture was one of greater assurance.
It also makes excessive demands on solo contingents within the orchestra (principal violin and viola foremost) as well as embracing a featured solo cello, played robustly by Daniel Mller-Schott, pictured right.
By concentrating on the bigger picture, Lazarev left the various protagonists ample latitude to shape and characterise the finer details, and to feed into this music all the quixotic eccentricities that help it live up to its name.