Classical review: RSNO, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang
Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang
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ON Saturday, the RSNO honoured the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks with a dedication and moments silence. Music director Peter Oundjian captured the mood with a few well-chosen words, before conducting the RSNO strings in Webern’s heart-rending Langsamer Satz. Then, without applause, the lights dimmed and a comforting warm silence lingered.

RSNO | Rating: **** | Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

It was - by accident rather than design - the perfect music for the occasion, an “outpouring of love and love of life”, as Oundjian put it. Gerard Schwarz’s string orchestra arrangement, amplifies its lush post-Romantic early-Webern language, which this performance captured with rich molten tone and heights and depths of expression doubtless fired by the circumstances.

Oundjian had asked that the rest of the concert continue as a celebration of all that is good in life. What better way to lift our spirits than with Brahms’ Violin Concerto featuring the wonderful Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang as soloist. Still in her late 20s, Frang combines a look of youthful modesty with a formidable technique and intense, but natural, musicality.

She made this interpretation her own, clean-cut virtuosity tempered by rapt lyricism and enough gently prodding confidence to push the music ahead where it could so easily have lost momentum, which Oundjian almost let happen towards the end of both fast movements.

The programme closed with Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony. There was beauty in abundance here, careful sculpting and caressing of the phrases. But sharper precision in the string sound would have added the necessary finishing touch.