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BBC SSO, City Hall, Glasgow

I WILL probably be hanged if I don't have a good-old rave-up about the phenomenal concert given on Thursday by the BBC SSO and conductor Ilan Volkov.

Rest easy: I propose nothing less. Part of the SSO's Muzyka Polska season, the programme, in design, presentation and execution, represented one of the most joined-up exercises in intellectual strategy anywhere in the current concert season.

But that's not the amazing thing. What is amazing is the way the whole lot, in all its diversity, came blazing off the page as a single, multi-faceted musical experience. We had early Lutoslawski, in his electrifying, sensational and inexplicably underplayed Concerto For Orchestra, a display piece if ever there was one (at least as effective as Bartok's Concerto For Orchestra). And we had late, mature Lutoslawski in his Fourth Symphony, ripe with breathtaking originality, from the static, atmosphere-drenched sound world of its opening to its triple-time, swaying rhythms, its layers of emotional intensity, its multiple dissolves and its volcanic close that exploded with the fury of its own energy.

In and around these works, Ukranian soprano Olga Pasichynk, in molten voice, gave seductively alluring and exquisitely exotic performances of Szymanowski's cycles, Songs Of An Infatuated Muezzin and Songs Of A Fairy-tale Princess, which revealed the composer in relatively aphoristic terms, though still with ravishing orchestration, which threatened to morph into Ravel on occasion.

But, in performance terms, with Volkov in rivetingly incisive form, and the band playing like there was no tomorrow, this was a programme designed for the SSO and built for Volkov's unique abilities in this field. No other team I know could have done this with such colossal effectiveness. A very good night for Poland.

HHHHH

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