Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City Halls, Glasgow

A SENSE of deja-vu pervaded this SCO double-header programme, violinist Alexander Janiczek operating as soloist and director in a Mozart concerto, before pianist Llyr Williams repeated the same process in a Beethoven concerto.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Contributed
Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Contributed

Scottish Chamber Orchestra | Rating: *** | City Halls, Glasgow

For it’s not that long since the same personnel performed an almost identical programme, in which concertos by both these composers were padded out with a CPE Bach symphony and one of Mozart’s rondos for violin and orchestra. Same formula, and mostly the same cheery results.

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Janiczek took the tiller in the first half, making a brash sartorial statement in his gauche red shirt, and matching that with a boisterous performance of CPE Bach’s mischievously unpredictable Symphony in G. The SCO’s bristling, high-energy response got to the very heart of this prototype Classical symphony’s adventurous spirit.

Janiczek’s solo reading of Mozart’s lesser-known Violin Concerto No 2 in D was deliciously clean, his precise intonation allowing its crystalline lines to ring true. The orchestral interplay was animated and energised, a partnership of shared ideas. Mozart’s Rondo in C, its simplicity hiding a treasure trove of musical imagination, was effectively a welcome encore.

Once Llyr Williams, pictured, settled into the groove of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, the same chemistry emerged. But there was an unsettled feel to the opening, and a sense, too, with Janiczek vigorously occupying the leader’s seat, that two conductors were in charge. Once Williams found his voice, imbuing Beethoven’s music with that typical nuanced intensity of his, the outcome was sublime.