BBC SSO

City Halls, Glas­gow

The Scotsman - - Reviews -

WHEN you are new to an au­di­ence, it pays to go with the mu­sic clos­est to your heart. That ap­peared to be the case on Thurs­day, when Hun­gar­ian con­duc­tor Gergely Madaras made his BBC SSO de­but with a pro­gramme that was two parts Hun­gar­ian, one part Rus­sian.

He opened with a work that would have been new to most of his au­di­ence, Erno Dohnányi’s Vi­o­lin Con­certo No 1 – a sub­stan­tial four-move­ment late-ro­man­tic vir­tu­oso show­case. Framed at ei­ther end by a dark, rich brass theme of post-wag­ne­r­ian sig­na­ture, the in­ner mood is mostly wild and ef­fer­ves­cent, a swash­buck­ling tour de force that re­quires a soloist who fears noth­ing.

There was cer­tainly com­plete self-be­lief in vi­o­lin­ist Barn­abás Kele­men’s big­hearted per­for­mance. He pow­ered his way re­lent­lessly through the mu­sic, dig­ging ven­omously into the myr­iad spread chords, fear­less of the mu­sic’s daz­zling chal­lenges. But there was some­thing roughshod, too, in the in­con­sis­tency of his tone and some ques­tion­able in­to­na­tion. A kind of ac­ci­dent-prone bravado.

The sec­ond half was con­sid­er­ably more re­fined. Madaras drew ev­ery ounce of gypsy pas­sion and rus­tic nuance from Ko­daly’s Dances of Galánta, a work de­fined by its in­fec­tious rhyth­mic kicks, char­ac­ter­is­ing wind so­los and a blis­ter­ing sense of Mag­yar zeal.

The con­cert ended with Borodin’s Sym­phony No 2, one of those de­li­cious Rus­sian works that con­nect the folksy lyri­cism of Tchaikovsky with the rav­ish­ing ex­pan­sive den­sity of Rach­mani­nov. This was a beefy per­for­mance, feisty and in­trepid, but tem­pered beau­ti­fully by the tex­tu­ral sen­si­tiv­ity of Borodin’s melt­ing coloura­tions.

KEN WAL­TON

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