BBC SSO/Edusei
City Halls, Glasgow
Keith Bruce
four stars
FOLLOWING his last-minute deputising for Emmanuel Krivine to conduct the opening concert of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Beethoven symphony cycle in November, Kevin John Edusei returned to Scotland to replace an indisposed Alondra de la Parra on the SSO’s podium — and once again a senior member of management at the RSNO was in the audience. I think we may safely speculate that further visits are likely.
In his large, eloquent hands on Thursday evening was a programme of masterworks by Schubert, Mozart and Richard Strauss, but it began with a sparkling sojourn to Latin America by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. His Danzon No. 2 featured some find wind solos, as well as a predictable excursion for first trumpet Mark O’Keeffe, and a more surprising lively trio of violin, bassoon and clarinet. Wonderful colourful stuff, even if the strings initially seemed less than comfortable with its rhythms.
As had been true of his Beethoven, Edusei’s Schubert, the “Unfinished” 8th, was noticeably unhurried, although in fact the performance was no slower than is usual. The string playing here was very lovely indeed, particularly in the quietest music. That demand for concentration on the part of the audience continued after the interval with Pavel Kolesnikov’s unshowy and superbly musical performance of Mozart’s E Flat Major Piano Concerto No. 22.
This young Russian’s Mozart playing is up there with that of Uchida, but the Japanese Dame of the piano would be unlikely to produce a first movement cadenza like the one Kolesnikov had written himself. Beginning with an audacious right hand ran from the bottom of the keyboard, it included echoes of Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. Anachronistic perhaps, but utterly compelling.
The challenging range of what was a very effective programme concluded with Strauss’ brilliantly-orchestrated tone-poem Till Eulenspiegel, which requires four of everything in the winds and uses the big orchestra to the full.The unfolding of this witty music was full of sharp detail and impeccably paced. Mr Edusei will be welcome back with any of our orchestras.