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RSNO Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

GIVEN that the RSNO's concert on Thursday night took on a decidedly seasonal hue, with an extract (Winter) from Glazunov's The Seasons, with its lovely slippery surfaces and chilly atmospheres, and Act Two of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, the quintessential Christmas concert piece, full of glitter, glamour and beauty, I feel I should be donning the Santa beard and a suitably avuncular, charitable disposition.

Bah, humbug, I say.

Conductor Alexander Shelley ended the Glazunov in a self conscious, gauche manner: no one knew it was finished. I'm sorry, you do not do this: it's part of the business. You get your starts and your ends, your intros and your outros organised. Confident execution and delivery are everything, whether you are a conductor or an early learner. And in The Nutcracker (one of Tchaikovsky's greatest ballet scores) all I could hear in the intoxicating evocation of The Magic Castle, the most ravishingly wraparound music ever written, was the beat; where was the fluidity?

The classical core of the concert was a sensational performance of Rachmaninov's First Piano Concerto by the young French pianist Lise de la Salle, who has enormous physical power, coupled with an intimate expressivity and an individualistic approach that is not so much volatile as volcanic. I found her explosive temperament in the piece riveting and magnetic, though it did seem at times that conductor Shelley was all over the place and didn't have a clue what she was doing. Get her back before she becomes unaffordable, but get her a more responsive conductor; one who can anticipate and follow her, and communicate with the band. Cheap and cheerful does not work.

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