BBC SSO, City Hall, Glasgow
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THIS was the show with everything. Everybody's limbering up for, or trundling out, the closing nights of their winter seasons. The BBC SSO, reinforced with a brace of vocal soloists, soprano Katherine Broderick and mezzo Clara Mouriz, a questing concert pianist in Alexander Gavrylyuk, a hit squad of actors from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Andrew Nunn's classy little vocal ensemble, Les Sirenes, pulled off a collegiate coup in a concert on Thursday night that rolled out high art, great literature, atmospherically-lit, semi-staged theatre, endless musical wit, invention and characterisation, to say nothing of Shakespeare's comedic genius, that was as refined in its presentation as it was vulgar and hilarious; and all, in equal measure, garlanded with typically-committed BBC SSO playing where you can hear the grain as much as the gloss. This event really had the lot: it was the quintessential good night out: a night for a great guffaw and a good greet.
Conductor Markus Stenz presided over an evening that opened with Berio's sparkling arrangement of a Night in Madrid, a brilliant bit of orchestration that could be crudely described as an approach and a departure, with a near-nod in the direction of Charles Ives, while Gavrylyuk's interpretation of Mozart's K467 Piano Concerto delved deep into the ambiguity of the piece, probing near-subversive levels of expression: thought-provoking playing here, way beyond the norm.
The second half was a riot of discovery with the scintillating performance of Mendelssohn's complete incidental music to Midsummer Night's Dream in Gerard McBurney's pellucid adaptation, which seemed fully-dressed with every nuance of rusticism and romance. It was plain glorious in both music and words. Unforgettable.