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This was a BBC SSO live performance with a stage of excellence that doesn’t come alongside too usually – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom Shostakovich, Rachmaninov: Elina Vähälä (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu (conductor). Grand Corridor, Metropolis Halls, Glasgow, 3.11.2022. (MC)

Elina Vähälä

Shostakovich – Violin Concerto No.2 in C sharp minor, Op.129 (1967)

Rachmaninov – Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.70 (1906-07)

On my first go to to Glasgow’s Metropolis Halls it was gratifying to affix a close to capability viewers, an event which so usually appears to assist the environment. Taking my seat within the Grand Corridor for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra live performance provoked combined emotions and I did marvel what to anticipate. On one hand I used to be energised by the expectation of listening to the Shostakovich Second Violin Concerto (performed by soloist Elina Vähälä), a piece I don’t hear too usually in live performance. Alternatively, I used to be aware of getting attended too many lacklustre performances of Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony.

Though the much less acquainted of the 2 concertos Shostakovich wrote for violin it is probably not as immediately interesting however is barely much less compelling. A late work accomplished in 1967 the concerto was the composer’s present to mark the sixtieth birthday in 1968 of his pal famend violin soloist David Oistrakh and premiered a yr early. Affected by coronary heart hassle and battered and bruised emotionally by the torments suffered by the hands of Soviet authorities, possibly Shostakovich felt it extra acceptable to honour the golden jubilee of the Nice October Socialist Revolution of the Soviet Union which fell in 1967.

Vähälä was born in America though raised in Finland and is an unfamiliar identify to me. The concerto is an especially troublesome work with every of the three actions containing a cadenza and a few double stopping all challenges which Vähälä took in her stride. I discovered myself on the sting of my seat together with her masterly efficiency of vitality, technical command and unwavering depth. My spotlight was Vähälä’s steadfast enjoying of the Adagio the place she developed a soundworld which was despondently bleak and disquietingly desolate. The depth of the viewers applause appeared to shock Vähälä although her efficiency was as beautiful as the robe she wore. Unusually for a concerto the horn half is so outstanding it feels at instances as if the instrument is shadowing the solo violin. It might be remiss to not point out the wonderful horn enjoying of visitor principal Lauren Reeve-Rawlings.

After the interval visitor conductor Hannu Lintu and the BBC SSO turned their consideration to Rachmaninov. Unquestionably Rachmaninov was devastated following the debacle of the premiere of his First Symphony in 1897 due primarily to inept conducting by Alexander Glazunov and poor orchestral enjoying. Crippling anxiousness and insecurities that adopted resulted in a composing deadlock for some three years. Rachmaninov’s restoration resulted in his Second Symphony from 1906/07. A lot beloved by audiences, the symphony was a product of his time working in Dresden the place he had moved along with his household to flee extreme political unrest in Russia. In 1908 the composer returned to St Petersburg to conduct the premiere. Due to its size at one time in efficiency it was frequent to topic the symphony to quite a few cuts, far much less so in recent times. Right here Lintu and his gamers took some sixty-five minutes.

It didn’t take lengthy to understand the enjoying of the BBC SSO below the targeted Lintu was to an elevated high quality. Standing out for me was the tonal heat lavished on Rachmaninov’s achingly lovely melodies each within the opening motion and the timelessly wonderful writing of the Adagio. Its ravishing foremost theme would break the stoniest of hearts. Distinctive enjoying from the principal clarinet added enormously to the success. Responding to Lintu’s promptings the orchestra offered enjoying of scorching vitality and great emotional vitality to the Scherzo and jubilant Finale. This was the best efficiency of this symphony that I’ve attended and to suppose I used to be initially a contact apprehensive at what I would encounter.

These two compelling works by Rachmaninov and Shostakovich performed with resolute dedication made for a live performance with a stage of excellence that doesn’t come alongside too usually.

Michael Cookson

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