City Halls

Rosie Davies

Four stars

There’s often a cosy warmth at Nicola Benedetti’s stowed-out Scottish concerts – partly a tangible manifestation of national pride in an international star, partly a borderline-maternal interest in seeing her develop, mature and, more often than not, shine.

Having her not only perform in but direct two of Mozart’s Violin Concertos was a treat, allowing as it does that intimate relationship between soloist and chamber orchestra.

Benedetti always manages to make it look like everyone is having an effortlessly lovely time on stage, but she also led with elegant confidence, tempering admirable touches of character – particularly through her bowing – with a stylish restraint.

The many show-stopping cadenzas were used not only for virtuosity, but sophistication; a blend of interesting harmony and styles, from gutsy, folksy double-stopping to liquid-quick Baroque string-crossing.

In a Mozart-heavy programme, the stark delicacy of Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, for string orchestra, felt slightly incongruous to start, but its sheer emotive tenderness soon smoothed out the space it deserved.

But it was the caffeinated buoyancy of Mozart’s D Major symphony, directed by Leader Benjamin Marquise Gilmore, that stood to attention.

As if eager to compete with all those cadenzas, its opening bars exploded into life, and – with the wonderfully mobile Gilmore only truly occupying his seat for around half of it, bouncing excitedly from his chair – the orchestra exuded a sparky, focused energy until the closing ones.