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SCO, City Hall, Glasgow

HHH

WHAT price daring and experiment? There is no safer orchestral programming than filling a night with music by Schumann and Brahms, you might argue: solid mainstream, guaranteed box office and a big audience that knows what it likes and is going to get plenty of it. Or so you might expect.

The ever-adventurous Scottish Chamber Orchestra, without deviating from that Brahms-Schumann axis, dug around, turning up lesser-known repertoire, concocting a fascinating programme with a twist.

And what happened on Friday night? Dramatically, the SCO audience, voting with its feet, deserted them in droves, leaving a group of diehards and the curious coralled into the downstairs area of the City Hall, the smallest SCO audience I've seen in a long while.

Maybe the audience is more perceptive than we realise: Schumann's Zwickau Symphony, though delivered with style by conductor Olari Elts and the orchestra, is an early atttempt at full-on orchestration and symphonic construction that is permeated with hints of subtleties to come but doesn't quite come off; while the later Overture, Scherzo and Finale, though very direct, is like a symphony with a bit left out.

Vocal and choral music were the best of the night, with superb baritone Markus Werba in Detlev Glanert's arrangement of Brahms's Four Serious Songs, to which Glanert added what we would now call a series of links: atmospheric preludes and postludes creating an enthralling continuum.

The SCO Chorus, after a fairly routine account of Brahms's Liebelieder Waltzes, excelled in Schumann's beautiful Nachtlied. But it was a bitty night, with little atmosphere.

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