BBC SSO & Denis Kozhukhin, City Halls, Glasgow ****
Pianist Denis Kozhukhin has been a regular and much-admired visitor to the BBC SSO, and his account of Tchaikovsky’s well-loved First Piano Concerto was big-boned, urgent, sometimes rather breathless, but so mighty as to sweep aside any concerns. He tackled the work’s relentless virtuosity with what felt like elegant choreography, and a fair bit of rhythmic freedom too. But there was a steely determination to his playing, matched brilliantly in the Orchestra’s forthright, sharply defined playing.
The SSO players were on remarkably focused form – as well as maintaining an astonshing sustained intensity – in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, an enigmatic musical depiction of the failed 1905 Russian uprising, unapologetically serious-minded in Vedernikov’s powerful account.
He took a broad view of the Symphony’s uninterrupted hour of grinding intensity, ratcheting up tension expertly across huge spans of music. It was cathartic, yet profoundly troubling too – vivid in its musical storytelling, yet unavoidably bleak in its conclusions. A magnificent evening, if sometimes rather overpowering.