THERE has been a bit of a Finnish accent in Glasgow's music this weekend, with one of Finland's top conductors, John Storgards, directing the SCO on Friday in a programme that included the UK premiere of a recent work by one of the country's veteran composers, Einojuhani Rautavaara, while yet another Finn, pianist Olli Mustonen, is resident in the city playing all of Bartok's Piano Concertos with BBC SSO, with another this afternoon, while having fitted in an RCS solo recital on Friday while he's here.
The SCO's Friday concert was a bit of a knockout, with a single qualification: there is absolutely nothing objectionable or provocative in Rautavaara's new work for strings, entitled Into The Heart Of Light, which is slightly pastoraly and moodily evocative. But, on the one hand, it doesn't do very much other than meander around pleasantly, if a bit aimlessly. And on the other hand, it actually goes on at great length not doing very much, saying in about 10 minutes what could be said more effectively in five.
At the other end of the programme, John Storgards, a Finn with real purpose, directed a spanking performance by the SCO of Mendelssohn's Fifth Symphony, the so-called Reformation, which demonstrated that the underplayed symphony can retain all its grandeur and solemnity while exuding a terrific dynamism that drives it forward.
Loading article content
And in the middle of all this, the fabulous pianist Artur Pizarro delivered an account of Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto with grace, effortless fluidity, and yards of wit and charm that would melt ice: and that performance was near-perfection, possessing such lucidity that it was a life-affirming experience.