City Hall, Glasgow
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NOTHING on God’s or anyone else’s earth could persuade me to tone down one glimmer of any star among the five I throw at the BBC SSO’s rampantly successful Hear and Now concert on Saturday night. It was one of the finest, and undiluted, celebrations of contemporary music it has been my delight to revel in over the last 30 years.
For starters let’s nail that Thomas Dausgaard man, the SSO’s chief conductor. His introduction to the programme, delivered without theatrics, was supreme in its eloquence, articulation, and its outlining what each of the four featured composers was doing in their pieces: probably the best intro to a tough programme that I have heard.
And then it was over to the music, with Dausgaard unfailing in his channelling, in this particular repertoire, of SSO playing with grit, focus, intensity and clarity of purpose. Every composer had something to reveal about themselves, and the SSO/Dausgaard team frankly scored bullseye upon bullseye with the acuity of their interpretations, underlining first the wonderful power of atmospheric evocation and musical landscaping at the heart of Helen Grime’s second Joan Eardley inspiration, Snow: magnificent musical portraiture by the girl from Macduff.
Sally Beamish’s Second Piano Concerto, a world premiere performance from Martin Roscoe and the SSO, was a huge piece, whose writing ranged from the simple and poetic to a near-rage of rhythmic volatility; Jay Capperauld’s explosive Fein-Aithne, a real meltdown monster, is his best piece since Heroin Chic, while Maxwell Davies’ Ninth Symphony was almost as outrageously funny as it is viciously satirical: classic Max, and a splendid night for new and recent music.