BBC SSO/Madaras
City Halls, Glasgow
Keith Bruce
four stars
A RETURN visit by Hungarian Gergely Madaras suggests another burgeoning relationship with an interesting young conductor, and this guest spot with the BBC Scottish again featured the work of his countryman Erno Von Dohnanyi, whose Symphony No 1 was composed in the first year of the last century, when he was just 23, and played here just days after the 60th anniversary of his death, in 1960.
It is a lush score, requiring a huge number of strings and a mighty wind section, and was beautifully played, but it broke no new ground at the time and the composer’s precocious talent for orchestration is not always matched by the strength of his melodic material. The punchy central Scherzo of its five movements is flanked by two slow ones, and the work might be played more regularly if he’d selected one of them (preferably the shorter second one with Scott Dickinson’s solo viola).
The SSO would also be wise to foster future connections with Thursday evening’s soloist for Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No 1, Karen Gomyo. Tokyo-born, Juilliard-trained and now Berlin-resident, she is a player of prodigious technique and compelling poise. Her execution of the demanding cadenza that is the bridge between the moving Passacaglia and the Finale was superb, as was the playing the SSO wind soloists who have such a crucial role in the work.
The evening began with what was the European premiere of Moscow-born British composer Elena Langer’s Orchestral Suite from her acclaimed opera Figaro Gets a Divorce, although it was not billed as such. Premiered by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra just last month, it is a very cleverly constructed piece of work, which nods to Shostakovich in the the third of its six movements and to Piazzolla in the one that follows — coincidentally a particular chamber music specialism of Karen Gomyo.