Thursday, December 7, 2023

City Halls, Glasgow

It should have been Sir Mark Elder conducting. In his short-notice place Martyn Brabbins left the programme and its order unchanged. (Very recently Elder replaced Robin Ticciati for an LPO Mahler Three.) ‘Ibéria’ (Image II) got the concert off to a detail-packed start, the playing crispy delineated in the opening tableau – a sunny welcome to Spain, have a great time – for this was a vibrant highway arrival without overlooking the off-road byways, the succeeding ‘perfumes of the night’ subtly expressive, coloured and blended, nocturnally ravishing yet mysterious, leading to a new day, one that will stage a festival, here keenly anticipated rather than described following the event. The opening and closing Images – ‘Gigues’ and ‘Rondes de printemps’, respectively the English and French legs, both new to Brabbins – were brought off with page-turning success, painterly and flexible, unlimited music.

Federico Colli gave a judiciously paced account of the Second Shostakovich Piano Concerto, with shape and brio, unaffected yet penetrating, supported by an ear-catching if intrinsic orchestra (Brabbins must have done much intensive score-reading this morning when he put the phone down; he was already in Glasgow, teaching, and used the became-unwell Elder’s own copies to complete the preparations), the playful first movement’s edgy growth made organic, similarly the Finale’s high spirits freewheeled (Colli’s fingers tireless to every semiquaver), with the central Andante particularly spacious (totally Adagio) and romantically poignant. The First Concerto was equally winning in terms of tempo – as well as volatility, sarcasm, expressionism, soulfulness and, finally, madcap Keystone Cops chase depiction, Colli scorching the keyboard. The SSO strings were unfailingly supportive – intense and athletic – Matilda Lloyd the characterful equal of Colli, she has every reason to be H-A-P-P-Y, and Martyn Brabbins was an eleventh-hour maestro par excellence, although that was no surprise given his versatility.

Debussy: Iberia
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 2
Debussy: Gigues
Debussy: Rondes de printemps
Shostakovich: Concerto for piano, trumpet and string orchestra

Federico Colli (piano) & Matilda Lloyd (trumpet)