WITHOUT the promised premiere of a work by Ian Kellam based on a theme by Peter Maxwell Davies, Saturday's concert by the Meadows Chamber Orchestra lost the neat structural point implied by the presence of Davies's own Strathclyde Concerto no.
Loading article content
On the cello-like beauty of tone that McTier brought to the opening bars was a reminder that Davies's is not just another jocular concerto for an ungainly instrument, nor that McTier is just another bassist. In a performance that notably avoided the grumpiness and grotesquerie of so much music of its kind he made an eloquent case for the bass as a lyrical instrument, declaiming the finale's arching cadenza and the last long dying note as if they were Elgar.
But the spectral side of the instrument -- which one would expect Davies to dwell upon -- was duly exploited in the echo effects between the soloist and the orchestra's principal bassist, a particularly haunting feature of the work, enhanced on this occasion by the resonance of Greyfriars Church.
As conductor, Steer ensured that the sudden explosions of velocity -- particularly the energising horn intrusions and the unleashing of the finale -- made their point, though the church acoustics dealt less favourably with the finesse of Bizet's Jeux d'Enfants, with which the Kellam work was replaced.