Music review: Russian State Symphony Orchestra/Valentin Uryupin

You’d probably expect a big Russian orchestra to be able to play Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake suite in its sleep. No doubt the players of the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, who opened the Usher Hall’s new Sunday Classics season, know the well-worn warhorse inside out, but there was no sense of over-familiarity (or slumber) in their gleaming performance under young Russian conductor Valentin Uryupin. This was searching, provocative stuff, hot-headed and impulsive in its climaxes, tremulous and remarkably fluid in its quiet introspection, urged on by Uryupin’s unconventional gestures – sometimes a bit jerky, but unfailingly effective.

Aris Argiris's first night as Rigoletto was ruined by a cold, but Lina Johnson portrayed the tragic Gilda with real stature

Opera review: Rigoletto

Matthew Richardson’s 2011 production of Verdi’s Rigoletto for Scottish Opera – revived now with new cast, new conductor and, unfortunately, the original uninspired designs of Jon Morrell – alludes to a central theme of women as men’s playthings. And that’s a fair point for an opera that had to undergo heavy censorship in Verdi’s own day, lest its callous, misogynist message offend the accepted moralities of the time.

The Orb's bliss-out entity is still going strong

Music review: The Orb

Three decades after The Orb more or less invented ambient house, the bliss-out entity is still going strong. With original member Alex Paterson joined on the decks by mixing engineer and long-time collaborator Michael Rendell, what the pair forsook in terms of The Orb’s usual stunning visuals, limited here to showing on a couple of television screens, they gained with the Spiegeltent’s intimacy, its timeless, colourful surroundings disguising that this was an early evening show slap-bang in a town square.

Ry Cooder's set had blues, gospel and spiritual music at its heart

Music review: Ry Cooder

For decades, Ry Cooder has spoken truth to power through his songs and channelled his righteous anger into simmering guitar soundscapes, understanding that sometimes the best counter to the evil that men do is to create something beautiful. And so he arrived in Glasgow pouring the healing balm of his new album The Prodigal Son over times of uncertainty.

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Conductor Gergley Madaras made his BBC SSO debut with a Hungarian and Russian programme

Music review: BBC SSO

WHEN you are new to an audience, it pays to go with the music closest to your heart. That appeared to be the case on Thursday, when Hungarian conductor Gergely Madaras made his BBC SSO debut with a programme that was two parts Hungarian, one part Russian.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra were in fine fettle

Music review: The SCO and SCO Chorus

The Seasons is often overlooked in favour of Haydn’s earlier oratorio, The Creation. This could be due to part to Baron Gottfried van Swieten’s idiosyncratic libretto. Taking the epic pastoral poem The Seasons by Scot James Thomson, van Swieten transposes the action to Germany, tones down the Scottish dourness and adds some hunting and spinning scenes for good measure. But if you forget about the words there’s an abundance of musical riches here, as demonstrated by Maxim Emelyanychev, the SCO’s principal conductor designate stepping in for an indisposed Bernard Labadie.

Carla J Easton

Under the Radar: Carla J Easton

Best known as the frontwoman in TeenCanteen and Ette, Carla J Easton’s new solo album, Impossible Stuff, was released on Friday via Glasgow-based Olive Grove Records – and it’s brilliant.


Music review: RSNO/Thomas Søndergård, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Not so much a concert, more a statement of intent – even a manifesto. For his inaugural concert as RSNO music director, Thomas Søndergård had taken inspiration from Mahler’s famous quote about a symphony needing to be like the world, to contain everything – as he explained in his chatty introduction. It was a demanding but invigorating evening, and it felt like Søndergård was showing us his own musical world, filled with his particular passions.

Music review: Bennett Wilson Poole, Glad Cafe, Glasgow

Music review: Bennett Wilson Poole, Glad Cafe, Glasgow

This gig was all about introductions as newly convened Anglo country rock supergroup Bennett Wilson Poole made their first live foray to Scotland, showcasing their eponymous debut album from start to finish at this sweaty Glasgow Americana Festival show.

Sir James MacMillan composed a new oratorio for The Cumnock Tryst festival. Picture: Robin Mitchell/PA.

Music review: Cumnock Tryst Festival, various venues, Cumnock

Something special happened on Saturday evening. It was the centrepiece of this year’s Cumnock Tryst – a programme that fully embraced the ethos of the festival founded five years ago by the Ayrshire town’s local-boy-done-good, Sir James MacMillan, set out by the composer as a means of drawing together the international stars of the classical music firmament, the ordinary people of the burgh, its modest venues and the functional and inspirational application of his music.

Mary Ann Kennedy  PIC: Sean Purser

Music interview: Mary Ann Kennedy on celebrating the Clyde at this year’s Mòd

Back in 1988, as the Glasgow Garden Festival was in full efflorescence on the south bank of the Clyde, just across the river, Mary Ann Kennedy was winning the coveted Gold Medal for Gaelic singing at the National Mòd. She celebrated by nipping across the newly opened Bell’s Bridge to the periphery of the Garden Festival, where there was an ice cream parlour: “It was probably Nardini’s,” she recalls, “but by some weird coincidence they had an ice cream flavour called ‘Gold Medal’.”

Jeff Lynne may not talk much, but his music speaks for him. Picture: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Music review: Jeff Lynn’s ELO

THE orchestral pop pomp of 70s chart behemoths Electric Light Orchestra is ideally suited to Glasgow’s spaceship-shaped arena, which looks like it was modelled after the cover of one of their most famous albums, Out of the Blue.

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Oboist and conductor Fran�ois Leleux made a great start with the SCO

Music review: The SCO & François Leleux

IN ITS year-long hiatus between principal conductors, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has made a smart move in enlisting the talents of oboist and conductor François Leleux as featured artist.

Love Sick PIC: Ronan Park

Under the Radar: Love Sick

Like some of Scotland’s most successful acts in recent years, including Calvin Harris and Emily Sandé, Love Sick have launched their career by building a fanbase off their own turf, including appearances at The Great Escape in Brighton and Liverpool Sound City. But they’ve brought it back home, appearing at Loopallu Festival on Friday and Tenement Trail last night.

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