SCO/Emelyanychev, City Halls, Glasgow, five stars

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has an established and fruitful relationship with virtuosic violinist Pekka Kuusisto, but this season’s sequence of three concerts featuring the charismatic Finn looks designed to introduce him afresh to new audience members. With evenings he directs built around Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and then focused on his interest in folk fiddle still to come, here he was in the traditional role of orchestral soloist, playing the First Violin Concerto by his countryman Magnus Lindberg.

Except that this programme was never at any point a conventional “orchestral” concert. Instead it was all about the “chamber” word in the SCO’s name, with principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev bringing his commitment to exactitude and intimacy in music-making to every work.

There were times when his indication of tempi and dynamics in the Lindberg looked quite different from his familiar conducting style, but really it was exactly the same thing, with the rigour just a little more obvious. When it came to the work’s startling cadenza – a solo that few violinists could dispatch with the assurance Kuusisto demonstrated – Elemeyanychev bowed out, leaving the soloist to cue the subtle string underscore and then first bass Nikita Naumov for the concluding duet of the section.

The Lindburg concerto is precisely scored for 15 strings and seven winds, and the forces required onstage were measured and deployed precisely for everything in the programme.

READ MORE: Damian Barr’s memoir Maggie & Me comes to the stage

READ MORE: The Killing's Sofie Grabol back in hit drama Prisoner

The unusual layout of the small orchestra for the opening performance of Faure’s Pelleas & Melisande Suite was immediately effective in the stereoscopic sound of the orchestration. For Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks – one of the composer’s most enduring pieces of hack-work, which opened the concert’s second half – the ensemble was just 10 strings and five winds, with Emelyanychev perched on a bar stool and ensuring the irresistible rhythmic phrasing was absolutely on point.

The evening concluded with the relative immensity of 30 string players for Rudolf Barshai’s Chamber Symphony arrangement of Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet. Here was the conductor relishing the extra power available at his fingertips in a performance like a classic V8 coupe cruising slightly menacingly through the downtown streets.

If Kuusisto was the star soloist of the evening, there were many others among the SCO ranks, particularly first cello Philip Higham in the Ravel and Shostakovich, principal flute Andre Cebrian in the Stravinsky, and guest first horn Chris Gough.