WITHOUT the promised premiere of a work by Ian Kellam based on a theme

by Peter Maxwell Davies, Saturday's concert by the Meadows Chamber

Orchestra lost the neat structural point implied by the presence of

Davies's own Strathclyde Concerto no. 7 -- the one for double bass -- in

the same programme; but with Duncan McTier as soloist, and with John

Steer (himself a distinguished bassist) as conductor, it was clear that

the concerto, at any rate, would be in able, sympathetic, and thoroughly

authoritative hands.

On the cello-like beauty of tone that McTier brought to the opening

bars was a reminder that Davies's is not just another jocular concerto

for an ungainly instrument, nor that McTier is just another bassist. In

a performance that notably avoided the grumpiness and grotesquerie of so

much music of its kind he made an eloquent case for the bass as a

lyrical instrument, declaiming the finale's arching cadenza and the last

long dying note as if they were Elgar.

But the spectral side of the instrument -- which one would expect

Davies to dwell upon -- was duly exploited in the echo effects between

the soloist and the orchestra's principal bassist, a particularly

haunting feature of the work, enhanced on this occasion by the resonance

of Greyfriars Church.

As conductor, Steer ensured that the sudden explosions of velocity --

particularly the energising horn intrusions and the unleashing of the

finale -- made their point, though the church acoustics dealt less

favourably with the finesse of Bizet's Jeux d'Enfants, with which the

Kellam work was replaced.