BBC SSO, City Halls, Glasgow ***
He opened with Haydn’s Symphony No42 in D, seldom played but which delights in the symphonic experimentation of its time: delicate classical proportions and sweetly shaped phrases, with the odd twist – a third movement Trio given to solo string ensemble – to distinguish Haydn from his contemporaries.
The expressive detail Carter elicited was beautifully gauged, every phrase given a meaning, whether a gentle sigh, inquisitive question or resolute answer. Delightful in so many ways, but played too safely to fully engage in the symphonic adventure, and contained within a narrow dynamic range.
Vadym Kholodenko’s vision of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini fed on the power of extreme contrast. It wasn’t a belt-and-braces performance, the opening bars strangely, and worryingly, reduced to irrelevance.
Yet the minute the theme emerged, interesting things happened: ripples of delicious virtuosity from Kholodenko; surprising shades of quiet cool and conscious detachment as a foil to the more ostentatious power-driven variations; and an accommodating interplay between soloist and orchestra. But why throw away the final bars so over-dismissively?
Brahms’ Third Symphony began as a slow burner, its featureless opening gathering purpose in good time for the fresh spring colours of the Andante, the sun-baked warmth of the third movement and a finale that was big, bold and powerfully engaging. - Ken Walton