RSNO/Davis, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Michael Tumelty

Four stars

CAN anyone explain what might be going on? On Saturday night, after a stuffed week with loads to review, including tons of pieces in the RCS's new-music festival, I turned up at the Royal Concert Hall hoping for a lovely night with Mahler's Fourth Symphony in the famous and experienced hands of Sir Andrew Davis, to be greeted by a shocked-looking member of the front-of-house staff, telling me that only around 800 folk would be turning up.

What? Only 800 for Mahler Four: for one of the most popular and user-friendly Romantic symphonies in the book? Something is far wrong here. I trust the RSNO is scratching its head today. There is an issue. I don't know what it is. Is it the old issue? Is there too much on? Are there now too many choices? Are people's purses now too stretched? Or are they just unwilling to go out more often, and are therefore de-selecting options and making more-critical choices? I've got views, but the only views that count are from those of you who are not turning up.

As it was, Mahler Four was deeply-enthralling. It was a Mahler Four that, mercifully, didn't rush off in a spray of sleigh bells: it was beautifully-paced and well-breathed by Sir Andrew Davis. It scrupulously observed the intimate, chamber music ethic at the heart of the piece. It enhanced that interpretative stance with textures so transparent the light streamed through. And that allowed the gorgeous, gloopy moments to glow with beauty, outstandingly in the finale with Erin Wall's rich singing, which had also garlanded her earlier performance of Berg's Seven Early Songs.