This dazzling programme, conducted by a turbo-charged Jaime Martin and given the sparkle treatment by an on-form RSNO, quickly dispelled the gloom of the stormy weather outside.
Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Rating: **** | Usher Hall, Edinburgh
It also helped that the composers featured are some of the best orchestrators in the business when it comes to tonal colour and texture.
Tchaikovsky’s show-stopping Violin Concerto is a case in point, with soloist Baiba Skride opting for depth and intensity rather than surface glitz and speed to open up the music. Certainly the lengthy first movement allowed the finer details of the woodwind and string sections to emerge, but it was just a shade too slow for an allegro.
Skride plays with technical command and a spell-binding transluscency well-suited to the sultry andante with its haunting interplay between the violin and the clarinet and flute. The fluctuations in tempo were maybe just a bit too extreme in the whirlwind finale but otherwise Martin kept all the forces in balance with aplomb.
The exuberance in Strauss’s Don Juan was palpable as the leaping horn passages echoed the vaulting ambitions of the title subject. This was an energetic and superbly taut performance which confirmed the thrilling chemistry between Martin and the orchestra.
This continued in their sultry account of Suites 1 & 2 from de Falla’s score for the ballet The Three Cornered Hat. There was plenty to enjoy in the biting Spanish fandango rhythms with their swerving dynamics and, the piece de resistance, the clacking castanets in the all-singing and dancing finale.