BBC SSO

The Scotsman - - Reviews - KEN WAL­TON

City Halls, Glas­gow

DUR­ING Matthias Pintscher’s eight years as artist-in-as­so­ci­a­tion with the BBC SSO, it’s as a com­poser that he has been most in­ter­est­ing to ob­serve. On Thurs­day, near­ing the end of his SSO as­so­ci­a­tion, he con­ducted the UK pre­miere of his own cello con­certo, “un des­per­tar”, writ­ten two years ago for cel­list Alisa Weil­er­stein and pre­miered last year by her with the Bos­ton Sym­phony Or­ches­tra.

For this per­for­mance the soloist was Bruno Dele­pelaire, the lead cel­list of the Ber­lin Phil­har­monic who has a grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion on the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit. In a work that de­fies con­ven­tional show­man­ship he elicited the of­ten whis­pered vir­tu­os­ity of Pintscher’s at­mo­spheric mood piece with elec­tri­fy­ing con­straint.

Taking its in­spi­ra­tional cue from Oc­tavio Paz’s poem of the same name (it means “an awak­en­ing”), “un dester­tar” ex­ists in a world of semi-sleep. Un­der­pinned by a sur­real fac­tory of per­cus­sion ef­fects, the mu­sic rarely rises above a mur­mur, and when it does it is quickly ex­tin­guished. The cello is in­te­gral to this ethe­real sound world, qui­etly ef­fu­sive but pro­tag­o­nist none­the­less. Dele­pelaire cap­tured its mer­cu­rial spirit beau­ti­fully.

Pintscher also con­ducted Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin and Mozart’s Sym­phony No 39, and seemed to ap­proach th­ese with the same time­less­ness that was so ef­fec­tive in his own piece. So while the dense or­ches­tral tim­bres of the Ravel added warmth to the per­for­mance, it was of­ten at the ex­pense of Ravel’s crys­talline sparkle and vi­tal­ity.

The Mozart suf­fered too from an am­biva­lence that ob­served the spa­cious­ness of this sym­phony, but equally sti­fled some of its ex­u­ber­ance.

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