The Scotsman

RSNO & Simon Trpčeski

- Usher Hall, Edinburgh JJJJJ Susan Nickalls

The Usher Hall might have been only a third full, but the RSNO with conductor Thomas Søndergård delivered a glittering performanc­e every bit as dazzling as Taylor Swift’s sequins.

Much of this brightness emanated from Simon Trpčeski’ and his virtuosic alacrity at the keyboard in Saint-saëns’s fifth piano concerto, known as The Egyptian.hisrelaxed­andeasy approach belied the technical hurdles the composer throws at the pianist with his keyboard acrobatics the one constant in this rather odd concerto. Writing most of it in Cairo, Saint-saëns produced a musical travelogue of somewhat dubious styles. The lilting opening evoked a trip down the Nile while the thrilling ending conjured up a cinematic image of cowboys riding across the desert. In between, the smultzy slow movement was out and out

Egyptian pastiche.

Although this was a programme of French and Polish music, the pieces couldn’t have been more different. Lutosławsk­i’s Symphony No.3 was an extraordin­ary sonic adventure. No other composer can bend, swerve and fracture sound that is both mind-blowingly expansive and yet also appears to still time. From the staccato brass outburst that started and punctuated the rest of this galactical symphony, Søndergård brilliantl­y directed the various sections, which included aleatoric passages where the

musicians had the chance to improvise,inthisimpr­essive knock-out highlight.

The most sensationa­l discovery of the evening though was Grażyna Bacewicz’s short but action-packed Overture for Orchestra. Written in WWII during Nazi occupation, she created a sense of hope amidst a whirlwind of giddy ferocity in the orchestra by having the timpani beat out the Morse code for peace.

The Ravel crowd pleaser to end, Bolero, was suitably sultry and nicely paced, giving the orchestra’s talented musicians a chance to shine.

 ?? ?? The RSNO with conductor Thomas Søndergård were dazzling
The RSNO with conductor Thomas Søndergård were dazzling

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