Music review: BBC SSO / Christoph König

Twentieth century German composer Boris Blacher has remained, unjustifiably, an historical curiosity. We know him more for his ideological brush with the Nazis (his teaching was not 'on message') than his music. But on the evidence of his short Concertante Musik, which opened Thursday's BBC SSO programme, he was a composer of considerable skill and substance. In this performance, engineered with cut-glass precision by conductor Christoph König, the cross-currents of influence marking Blacher's progressively witty style burst into life.

The BBC SSO PIC: John Wood

BBC SSO ****

City Halls, Glasgow

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Borrowings from Stravinsky lurk in the impulsive, motorised rhythms and succinct ostinati. Blacher combines that with a sumptuous but powerfully unsentimental lyricism, long arcs of melody that soften the brittle underscore.

König injected its single-movement format with tantalising clarity, where solo instruments conversed with speedy repartee, and a compelling sense of aerated energy made every moment one to savour and smile over.

As such, it was the perfect preparation for Johannes Moser’s highly charged solo performance in Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C. König didn’t initially engage the orchestra – they were a bit sluggish in the opening movement – but when things clicked into gear, magic happened. Moser invested Haydn’s playful music with infinite contrasts and surprises, setting a record-breaking pace in the finale. There was plenty to enjoy in König’s cool dissection of Brahms’ Symphony No 1, even if some splashy moments interrupted its otherwise smooth passage.

KEN WALTON