BACK in 19th century Germany, this SCO programme could so easily have been viewed as partisan – all of its composers (Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms) representative of the conservative branch of traditionally-inspired mainstream music making, as opposed to the radical Liszt-Wagner camp.
SCO: Emmanuel Krivine | Rating: **** | City Halls, Glasgow
Consequently, it bore an inbuilt comfort factor, and a logical progression from start to finish. Add the lively French baton of SCO principal guest conductor Emmanuel Krivine (replacing the indisposed Robin Ticciati) to the mix, and it was never going to be predictable. Occasionally a little messy, but never dull.
That was certainly the case in Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, a frothy and turbulent account that rather dismissed the composer’s own concerns over technical dogma stifling the stormy expressiveness he sought to create. Krivine conjured up an excitable swell in his reading, but the resulting element of danger translated at times into a lack of togetherness and complete accuracy.
The next challenge was to breath conviction into Schumann’s much-maligned, certainly musically challenging Violin Concerto. Conviction was all there and more in Russian-born violinist Alina Ibragimova’s full-blooded virtuoso performance. If this work suffers from a degree of flat-lining, as a result of questionable over-composition on Schumann’s part, then Ibragimova found a successful way round that, harnessing its heavy-duty intensity and letting it speak directly for itself.
In contrast, Krivine closed the programme with a view of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony that was lithe, and perceptive in its discovery of fresh thoughts and sounds.