IF you weren't there, you'll never know, but just take my word for it.
One of the most spectacular performances in the current musical calendar
took place on Saturday night in Studio One at the BBC in Glasgow.
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Violinist Grigori Zhislin is not exactly a household name. Out of St
Petersburg, he has been resident in the UK since 1990 -- he is a
professor at the Royal College of Music in London, and has recently
formed a duo partnership with Russian pianist Nikolai Demidenko.
Anyway, on Saturday he made his debut with the BBC Scottish Symphony
an electrifying performance of Khatchaturian's Violin Concerto. It may
not be one of the best known of concertos, the Khatchaturian -- many of
its themes are unmemorable, and structurally it sprawls a bit -- but it
is a stunningly colourful and sensationally virtuosic piece.
And, in a sizzling
performance, Grigori Zhislin tore through it with a showcase display
of technical wizardry: zillions of notes, breathtaking articulation,
soulful and searing playing of the music's darker lyrical passages.
I have to say that in the first half the performance of Finnish
conductor Osmo Vanska did not exactly overwhelm. In the Khatchaturian he
didn't appear to lock into Zhislin and transmit the soloist's pace,
pulse and flexibility to the orchestra. There was an almost pent-up
rigidity in his attitude -- displayed also in Haydn's Clock Symphony; a
kind of juggernaut approach.
I dumped that view in the second half where he produced, with the SSO
playing out of their skins, a volcanic and brilliantly characterised
account of Nielsen's Four Temperaments Symphony. The temperature
throughout was boiling, and the effect, in the close confines of the
studio, was overwhelming.