Music review: NYOS Symphony Orchestra, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

When arts companies join the dots, the benefits are self-evident. While the RSNO was taking a week off its regular concert slots in the wake of its recent US tour, an emerging partnership agreement with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, celebrating its 40th anniversary season, allowed its flagship Symphony Orchestra to take up the slack.

Elim Chan
Elim Chan

NYOS Symphony Orchestra, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

The result? Two primetime Central Belt concerts by our impressive musical youth in front of audiences already programmed for Friday (Edinburgh) and Saturday (Glasgow) symphonic music, and a noticeable boost in typical NYOS attendances.

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They weren’t disappointed. Under the incisive baton of RSNO principal guest conductor Elim Chan, the orchestra faced the dizzying heft of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3, the virtuoso demands of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (Ravel’s lustrous orchestration) and the timbral challenges of Swedish composer Andrea Tarrodi’s Liguria with heart-warming intent.

It helped, of course, to have Steven Osborne as soloist in the Rachmaninov. He seemed conscious of the need to assert an insistent momentum, urging Chan, in turn the orchestra, to push ahead. So what began a little sluggishly and under-projected in the band soon found its feet, freeing up a performance that danced to the musical breeze.

There was plenty colour to play with in Tarrodi’s Liguria, a motorised fusion of rhythm and texture inspired by a cluster of Italian coastal villages. And even more in the Mussorgsky, swaggeringly confident in the big tuttis, its highlight being Richard Scholfield’s silken saxophone solo in The Old Castle. - Ken Walton