Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Keith Bruce, four stars

BERNARD Herrmann may have been a jobbing composer whose primary skill was creating music to match pictures, but the music for the Love Scene in Hitchcock’s Vertigo makes a concert piece that might just as well serve as a young person’s guide to the orchestra’s sonic possibilities. Conductor John Storgard’s programme was feast of tunes, and Herrmann’s unforgettable melody made an ideal precursor to the Violin Concerto of Erich Korngold, which uses themes he wrote for the screen two decades earlier.

Latvian violinist Baiba Skride is of the generation for whom this work, once rarely heard, is now core repertoire. A player of exemplary clarity and precision, that is never at the expense of emotion, even in the most demanding passages. It may not be approved audience etiquette, but the spontaneous applause after the first movement was certainly earned. This really is a virtuoso work that becomes increasingly so as it unfolds, the languid second movement followed by a technical work-out in the Allegro finale, demanding very speedy pizzicato and bow work. It is all-action, all-dancing stuff to the finish, with a climax that matches that of any other violin concerto in the canon.

His era preceded the art-form, but all of Tchaikovsky’s music is “cinematic”. His Fifth Symphony is also balletic and dramatic, of course, but not always as energetic as under the baton of Storgards. He demands an intensity of expression from the players that was obvious in Christopher Gough’s second movement horn solo and in the perfectly balanced restatement and exposition of the main theme by the brass and low strings in the finale. The composer’s last-minute transformation of that material into something anthemic gave the concert its thrilling finish. Sponsored by Investec