Review: SCO, Glasgow, City Halls

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Robin Ticciati’s love affair with Berlioz continued last night in an SCO programme that opened with the Love Scene from his Romeo and Juliet.

It unfolded like a dream – subtly emerging embryonic strands which the young SCO principal conductor teased into life, creating a vision of loveliness that was both crystalline and expansive.

Underpinning the seamless perfection, however, was an insistent and powerful musical narrative that probed the very heart of the subject matter. Whether through the urgent Beethoven-like cello recitatives or the iridescent shimmers of colour, there wasn’t one single moment lacking in emotional profundity, either outwardly expressive or inwardly pensive. It was simply sensational.

Pianist Lars Vogt ensured the magic continued in a reading of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 that was every bit as gripping. To say it was daring and extreme would be something of an understatement.

Vogt took each theme, exaggerated its character, even introducing sinister undertones in the opening movement’s development section that seemed both shocking and convincing. The ensuing cadenza – an extensive and impassioned diversion – took things to the very edge, and somehow it all worked a treat.

Brahms’s Serenade No 1 in D proved the ideal vehicle to round of an evening of sustained pleasure. And its proportions were absolutely right for the SCO – symphonic in terms of its substantial length, but written with such intricacy of touch and rustic flamboyance, it could almost be Mahler in prototype.

More to the point, it showed Ticciati and the SCO at the top of their game.

Rating: *****