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SCO, ALASdAIR Beatson, City Halls, Glasgow

It was probably inevitable a concert series called The Piano would eventually turn its mind to Michael Nyman's music from, er, The Piano.

Remember Holly Hunter in a hoop bonnet playing that tune on the beach? Here the pianist was the excellent young Scot Alasdair Beatson, accompanied by conductor Clark Rundell and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Nyman's irksomely catchy score was contextualised in an evening of lightweight programmatic minimalism. The SCO opened with Michael Torke's December for string orchestra: an unmemorable cliche of a heart-warmer full of cloying, plasticated nostalgia. The strings sounded abnormally scrappy and understandably unenthused. Philip Glass's score for Stephen Daldry's film The Hours works well as exactly that – a film score – with its wan repetitiveness capturing the stifled angst of Virginia Woolf and her cross-generational counterparts. In Michael Reisman's concert-suite arrangement, the score's material is thinly stretched across three dull movements. Beatson is a pianist who could find musicality in a major scale (handy, because he didn't have much more to work with here) and he managed to eke elegant nuance out of the flimsy solo lines. A couple of moments where his arpeggios came out of synch with the orchestra's were deftly realigned by Rundell.

Finally Nyman's The Piano Concerto, which rehashes music from the film score into a single-movement concert piece. The work is marginally more interesting than the Glass/Reisman concerto and certainly gives its soloist much chunkier stuff to sink his teeth into. The Big Tune from the movie appears in various incarnations, and Beatson embraced the expansive pianism.


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