Classical review: RSNO, Ayr Town Hall

The RSNO has been out and about recently, its latest concert away from the main cities being Friday's in Ayr.

Ayr Town Hall. Picture: Flickr

RSNO | Rating: *** | Ayr Town Hall

The music was mostly smaller-scale – the folk-fired ebullience of Ligeti’s Concert românesc and Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, with Brahms’s Fourth Symphony as a choice bit of meat to end with.

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The job of taming the RSNO in these mischievous acoustics – don’t mistake the warmth of sound Ayr Town Hall nurtures with the limitations of its physical dimensions – fell to the young German conductor Clemens Schuldt, whose animated lead aroused rhythmic bite and hot passion from the ranks, but also fell into the trap of allowing the big guns free rein in the Brahms.

The opening half was a feast of intimacy, at its rawest and most exciting in the Ligeti. It is not a top-notch piece; a kind of post-Bartok effusion stifled by Stalinist strictures, through which Ligeti’s extrovert whimsy somehow shines.

But the performance itself was incisive and colourful, especially in the evocative dialogue between on and offstage naturally-played horns. There was stylish precision in the Mozart concerto, and a performance, with RSNO bassoonist David Hubbard as soloist, that neatly served the score. It just seemed a little constrained in the interpretational sense, especially the cadenzas.

Schuldt had no problem with the big picture in Brahms’s symphony, setting out its proportions intelligently. Golden moments came and went, spoiled only by the overpowering brass, and one or two carelessly-tuned wind/brass chords.