BBC SSO, City Hall, Glasgow

Michael Tumelty

Five Stars

THIS was the show with everything. Everybody's limbering up for, or trundling out, the closing nights of their winter seasons. The BBC SSO, reinforced with a brace of vocal soloists, soprano Katherine Broderick and mezzo Clara Mouriz, a questing concert pianist in Alexander Gavrylyuk, a hit squad of actors from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Andrew Nunn's classy little vocal ensemble, Les Sirenes, pulled off a collegiate coup in a concert on Thursday night that rolled out high art, great literature, atmospherically-lit, semi-staged theatre, endless musical wit, invention and characterisation, to say nothing of Shakespeare's comedic genius, that was as refined in its presentation as it was vulgar and hilarious; and all, in equal measure, garlanded with typically-committed BBC SSO playing where you can hear the grain as much as the gloss. This event really had the lot: it was the quintessential good night out: a night for a great guffaw and a good greet.

Conductor Markus Stenz presided over an evening that opened with Berio's sparkling arrangement of a Night in Madrid, a brilliant bit of orchestration that could be crudely described as an approach and a departure, with a near-nod in the direction of Charles Ives, while Gavrylyuk's interpretation of Mozart's K467 Piano Concerto delved deep into the ambiguity of the piece, probing near-subversive levels of expression: thought-provoking playing here, way beyond the norm.

The second half was a riot of discovery with the scintillating performance of Mendelssohn's complete incidental music to Midsummer Night's Dream in Gerard McBurney's pellucid adaptation, which seemed fully-dressed with every nuance of rusticism and romance. It was plain glorious in both music and words. Unforgettable.