IF you weren't there, you'll never know, but just take my word for it.

One of the most spectacular performances in the current musical calendar

took place on Saturday night in Studio One at the BBC in Glasgow.

Violinist Grigori Zhislin is not exactly a household name. Out of St

Petersburg, he has been resident in the UK since 1990 -- he is a

professor at the Royal College of Music in London, and has recently

formed a duo partnership with Russian pianist Nikolai Demidenko.

Anyway, on Saturday he made his debut with the BBC Scottish Symphony

Orchestra in

an electrifying performance of Khatchaturian's Violin Concerto. It may

not be one of the best known of concertos, the Khatchaturian -- many of

its themes are unmemorable, and structurally it sprawls a bit -- but it

is a stunningly colourful and sensationally virtuosic piece.

And, in a sizzling

performance, Grigori Zhislin tore through it with a showcase display

of technical wizardry: zillions of notes, breathtaking articulation,

soulful and searing playing of the music's darker lyrical passages.


I have to say that in the first half the performance of Finnish

conductor Osmo Vanska did not exactly overwhelm. In the Khatchaturian he

didn't appear to lock into Zhislin and transmit the soloist's pace,

pulse and flexibility to the orchestra. There was an almost pent-up

rigidity in his attitude -- displayed also in Haydn's Clock Symphony; a

kind of juggernaut approach.

I dumped that view in the second half where he produced, with the SSO

playing out of their skins, a volcanic and brilliantly characterised

account of Nielsen's Four Temperaments Symphony. The temperature

throughout was boiling, and the effect, in the close confines of the

studio, was overwhelming.