Music review: RSNO & Peter Oundjian, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

From the restful, flowing understatement of Fauré's Pavane to the Slavonic high jinx of Dvorak's Violin Concerto, to the pragmatic soulfulness and sophisticated religiosity of Brahms' Requiem, Saturday's RSNO programme was a thing of beauty.
RSNO musical director Peter OundjianRSNO musical director Peter Oundjian
RSNO musical director Peter Oundjian

RSNO & Peter Oundjian, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

It was, in fact, the most natural and relaxed performance I’ve heard from the partnership of the RSNO and its musical director Peter Oundjian. He allowed the Fauré, with its whiff of ancient melodies, to breathe and sigh like a living organism. And with such ace cards as Katherine Bryan’s sultry, intoxicating flute solos, the peaceful, untroubled mood was magically captured.

The Dvorak concerto, in which the Czech composer translated the folksy spirit of his Slavonic Dances successes into the symphonic high ground, was equally honest in presentation, thanks largely to the refined virtuosity, at some points restraining presence, of Italian-born violinist Augustin Hadelich.

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He doesn’t make a huge sound on his Stradivarius, which very occasionally led to the orchestra over-dominating the texture. But by and large, Hadelich’s refined presentation and anchored gait tempered the work’s bubbly exuberance with controlled excitement, all satisfyingly to its benefit.

Then to the Brahms, and a reading that focused on detail and balance. I’ve rarely heard such exquisite clarity and levity from its pages, but Oundjian hit a perfect note with his caressing approach. Beautifully refined singing from the RSNO Chorus, and rapt solos from Roderick Williams and Sarah-Jane Brandon were the icing on a delicious cake.