Gig review: Jonathan Morton Takes Over Kelvingrove, Glasgow
IT’S not often that you go to a concert where you can’t even see the musicians.
But that didn’t even matter in the revelatory final event of violinist and Scottish Ensemble director Jonathan Morton’s weekend take-over of Glasgow’s classical offerings.
John Tavener’s transcendental Towards Silence placed four string quartets – the Medici, Cavaleri, Gildas and Fifth Quadrant – and throbbing Tibetan prayer bowls on the balconies overlooking the grand hall of the Kelvingrove Gallery. Hidden from the audience, they exchanged heady harmonies and pulsing pizzicatos across the cavernous space in four reflections on Hindu beliefs about death. But the experience was far from gloomy: the massed quartets’ vivid performance was lively, even rhythmic, ebbing away at the end into a blissful surrendering of worldly concerns.
Death also made an appearance in the concert’s first half, where Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto joined forces with vocal quartet the Hilliard Ensemble in a fascinating deconstruction of Bach’s D minor Partita for solo violin, with the aim of showing that it’s an epitaph for the composer’s wife, Anna Barbara.
Kuusisto coped remarkably well with the astonishingly reverberant acoustic of the huge space, using it to give a glowing bloom to his playing yet never at the expense of detail. His intense reading was somewhat unorthodox yet entirely convincing, and contrasted magnificently with the sensitive, nuanced chorales from the Hilliard singers. Violinist and vocalists came together for a final traversal of the Partita’s mighty Chaconne, one of the warhorses of the violin repertoire, which was nothing short of spellbinding.