It is not usual for the conductor of a classical music concert to end his curtain call by punching the air before slapping his musical score on the back (cover).

In fact, Colin Currie may be the first one I’ve seen do that. But those victorious gestures were entirely fitting for this well-attended Scottish Chamber Orchestra event, billed as “Steve Reich + with Colin Currie”.

The American composer has been a mainstay of the Scottish musician’s work with his own percussion group. The second half of this programme presented another side of his work with two more recent pieces for small ensembles, which Currie directed with the sort of rhythmic clarity you might expect, cueing the players with precision.

Radio Rewrite, for string quartet and bass guitar, with pairs of tuned percussion, pianos and winds (flute and clarinet), stemmed from the composer meeting Jonny Greenwood and being introduced to the music of his group Radiohead. Only the most devoted aficionado of the band might recognise the tunes that Reich reshapes for his own piece, but the different ways he uses and combines the efforts of the 11 players is always interesting.

Pulse, from 2015, is even more lyrical in its melodic line, while maintaining the rhythmic signature the title suggests. The ensemble sound of strings and winds later on was particularly lovely, with the bass guitar and piano a drummer-less rhythm section.

That plus sign in the concert’s title covered all of the music in the first half, which was by Reich’s contemporaries Arvo Part and Louis Andriessen, and Bang on a Can’s Julia Wolfe from the succeeding generation.

The wind octet arrangement of Part’s Fratres, with Currie combining conducting duties with the bass drum and wood block percussion part, seemed to capture the ancient/modern timelessness of the work especially well.

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Currie was even more active in a double role in the Andriessen, the 15-minute concerto Tapdance written for him a decade ago and having its Scottish premiere. The only work to feature the full orchestra, in the opening section Currie was also adding the top line the title suggests, using what looked like spoons on semi-tuned wooden batons, before moving to marimba for a superb cadenza and then to a pedal-tuned timpani drum after the orchestral climax.

Perhaps the most remarkable sonic experience of the evening, however, was Wolfe’s Fuel, demanding remarkable full-on playing from a 19-piece string orchestra. With rhythm, pitch and dynamics in constant flux – and Currie on top of all the changes – here was everything bowed strings can do: abrasive, lightning fast, or pure-toned and sustained. Exhausting to listen to, it was hugely demanding to play – and the SCO strings did so with panache.