Music review: RSNO - Oundjian and Benedetti

This season's opening programme by the RSNO was designed to give us our money's worth. On the one hand, there was Elgar's gloriously expansive Violin Concerto; and to follow, Stravinsky's hard core Rite of Spring, with a short, sharp newish work, Velocity, by Gloucestershire composer Gavin Higgins thrown in for good measure. Oh, and there was the crowd-pulling Nicola Benedetti, too.
Nicola Benedetti PIC: Simon Fowler.Nicola Benedetti PIC: Simon Fowler.
Nicola Benedetti PIC: Simon Fowler.

RSNO: Oundjian and Benedetti ****

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

The Elgar is new to Benedetti’s repertoire, and the striking thing about this performance was its searching quality. Take that magical moment when the soloist first enters, almost suppressing the orchestra, telling it to calm down before embarking on a whole new poetic journey.

The journey Benedetti took us on was more sweet than intense, though by the gorgeous slow movement a real personality began to shine through and the poetry found a silvery penetrating voice. And then the finale, more capricious than dazzling, but finding plenty energy to drive the music to its climax. An engaging performance by Benedetti, but I doubt this is her final say on this challenging concerto.

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Under Peter Oundjian, the RSNO gave reliable support. Then The Rite of Spring, which was remarkable, almost obsessive in its clarity, conductor Peter Oundjian carving out the detail with analytical precision. The opening lacked cohesion, and the final chord was a tad anxious, but in between it was pulverising and thrilling.

Higgins’s Velocity proved an effective concert opener, its tantalising rhythms and fearsome energy neatly preemptive of the Stravinsky.