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Bass mettle. Meadows Chamber Orchestra, Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh

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.

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7 -- the one for double bass -- in the same programme; but with Duncan McTier as soloist, and with John Steer (himself a distinguished bassist) as conductor, it was clear that the concerto, at any rate, would be in able, sympathetic, and thoroughly authoritative hands.

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.

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