RSNO, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
By Michael Tumelty
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WELL, he's older by 30 years, and so are we who are still around. But in the three decades since he took over the reins of the RSNO, Neeme Jarvi has lost nothing.
He's been everywhere, and has conquered the musical world. But he's still got that shoulder shrug, that wrist-flick and that sway of the hips which ignites and releases something in the RSNO, some of whose younger members might have been playing for him for the first time last week.
The programme was tailor-made Jarvi material, which saw him as spontaneous and piratically-colourful as ever in Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol, and absolutely welded to the phenomenal French pianist, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in a blisteringly-precise account of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, in which Bavouzet, who, en passant, will make a brief appearance in this Saturday's music column, created a wonderfully-effective mix of Prokofiev's gleaming melodic genius, richly-harmonic colouring, and diamond-hard percussive pianism. (The encore was by Gabriel Pierne.)
Jarvi's Shostakovich Five was simply a classic, a continuum which rolled from the power of the first movement to the Mahlerian grit of the second, to the melting beauty, melancholy and passion of the third, and on through that blazing finale, with the RSNO in thumping, thundering mode in the steamroller coda. Jarvi is still a genius of the push and pull of symphonic momentum. It was completely compelling, as though he had never left the stage in the last three decades. The charming, beguiling encore, during which the mischievous Jarvi left the stage (while the band played on) went for a stroll, and came back to collect leader Maya Iwabuchi, was Lyadov's Musical Snuffbox.