City Hall, Glasgow

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Michael Tumelty

IT'S almost the end of a long winter season, so I'm going to be a little partisan about the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's extraordinary concert on Friday night. I am not interested in being provocative (done it) but this is called for.

There are some things the SCO can do that are, almost exclusively in Scotland, its domain. Why? Size, flexibility and leadership.And Friday night's concert, with the SCO fundamentally directed by violinist Alexander Janiczek, was a classic example of this.

The core of the concert was the performance of two piano concertos by Piotr Anderszewski, who directed from the keyboard in Schumann's Piano Concerto and Mozart's lovely 12th Piano Concerto. Anderszewski isn't a conductor. He's a fascinating character, rather otherworldly, who looks as though he's just wandered in from an all-night party and isn't sure why he's here. He sits at the piano and sways, with his arms open and extended as though he's trying to embrace the entire orchestra in a huge cuddle.

His playing of the two concertos, with a beautiful stillness in the slow movement of the Mozart, and a poetic, mercurial account of the Schumann that would have sealed the imprimatur of the composer and his pianist wife Clara, who premiered it, was completely spellbinding.

But the whole thing, imbued throughout with a near-scary flexibility, was held together by the decisive and magisterial leadership of the SCO by its former concertmaster and now Associate Artist, violinist Alexander Janiczek: a defining performance by this great leader, who was also in charge of a delightful Mendelssohn Sinfonia and the lovely overture, Son and Stranger, at the top of the programme.