City Halls, Glasgow

Keith Bruce, four stars

THIS was the sort of programme that only conductor Ilan Volkov could have concocted ¬– and also a valuable exercise in bringing an element of his Tectonics spring weekend of experimental performance into the main-stream orchestral season.

The composer was Canadian Cassandra Miller, whose music was a revela-tion at Tectonics 2015 and whose “Round” for orchestra, commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, had its UK premiere. Four trumpets in the gallery played a single note for most of its ten minutes, as strings and winds looped phrases onstage. Utilising a particular performance of a piece by Tchaikovsky as source material, it aimed – with only partial success, I think – at a trance-like effect, but was interesting for all that.

The always-fascinating Salvatore Sciarrino’s Allegoria della note for violin and orchestra also deconstructs a classic work – in this case Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto – in a piece that requires tiny percussive contributions from everyone (brass, winds and strings) as well as seven percussionists. Soloist Ilya Gringolts has even more precision-tooled work to do, often barely au-dible and at the highest extremes of the violin’s range, brilliantly focussing all ears on what the instrument can do.

That first half had the effect of making the two opening chords of Beetho-ven’s Symphony No 3 sound radical once more, as Volkov surely knew it would. My guess, however, is that the “Eroica” perhaps had less rehearsal time than it deserved because of the demands of the modern works. The conductor looked to be working very hard to impose his interpretation – a lean muscularity in performance with clearly defined dynamics – on the musicians in the opening movement. He seemed to relax a little into the Funeral March and Scherzo, but the finale remained just a tad under-powered.