The Festival itself was invoked in snatches of melody from the classical repertoire, and they sat comfortably alongside the cries of gulls and the skirl of the pipes in a work that may also have attempted to suggest the architecture but was more obviously about the people in its snatches of voices. Its climax was perhaps a little grander than the capital often feels, but it has aye had pretentions that way.
The music was far from pretentious, however, and sat comfortably between the Cocteau-inspired demanding fast repeated string phrases of The Infernal Machine by Chistopher Rouse and the grand cinematic sweep of John Adams's City Noir, where sax soloist Simon Haram, the RSNO's own principal trombone Davur Juul Magnussen and and guest lead trumpet Huw Morgan were given jazz big band roles, in an all-American second half.
This was a night of big sound pictures, opening with a stirring Verdi overture, La forza del destino, followed by the Bruch Violin Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman. A work that has become a popular showpiece for the young virtuoso, here it was played in an altogether more measure and ultimately rewarding way, the communication between soloist and conductor Peter Oundjian palpable, and Zukerman clearly relishing the gloriously supportive string sound of the orchestra.
Was the RSNO previously capable of performing such a concert with such assurance and swagger? It certainly is now.
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A version of this review appeared in later editions of yesterday's Herald.