Classical review: RSNO, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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PLENTY sunshine in this week’s offering from the RSNO. On the one hand, hot-blooded music – Respighi, Rodrigo and the lesser-known Martucci – from Mediterranean climes; on the other, the suave, scintillating elegance of conductor Gilbert Varga, a man who spent a decade in charge of the Basque National Symphony Orchestra.


Venue: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Rating: ****

Added to which, the hot young Montenegran guitarist, Miloš Karadaglić, was at hand to offer a smiling, testerone-charged performance of Rodrigo’s popular Concierto de Aranjuez. All in all, a package desperately welcome in this extended winter of ours.

It was clear, with an audience swollen by guitar aficionados, that Karadaglić’s appearance was hotly anticipated. He didn’t disappoint. His was a confident performance, fuelled by youthful élan, outgoing determination and crystal clear delivery. Here, too, Varga’s insistence on orchestral colour was a vital contributor, gleaning maximum clarity from Rodrigo’s sparkly score. If anything, Karadaglić took the final movement a little fast, leaving one or two moments short of complete control.

The remainder of the programme was every bit as heated. It opened with Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No 1, a mesmerising recast of Renaissance lute songs, as if the Italian composer had tossed them in olive oil, releasing such delicious flavours as the subtle tang of the trumpet in the finale. After the stillness of Martucci’s somnolent Notturno, Respighi’s increasingly riotous Feste Romane was a rip roaring send-off.