Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

REVIEW: Total brilliance from BBC SSO in Perth

Pianist Eric Lu.
Pianist Eric Lu.

I am sometimes guilty of giving contemporary music an unfair deal, but having heard some pretty awful stuff over the years, my opinions have quite often been justified.

However on Friday night in the Perth Concert Hall, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, any misgivings were squashed after only a few bars of Anna Clyne’s This Midnight Hour (composed in 2015).

Mysterious and macabre

I immediately sensed this was a work that had enduring appeal. It was melodious, harmonious and had a wonderful combination of the mysterious and the macabre.

The programme notes called her music “approachable and imaginative”. That is spot on, in my opinion.

The images she conjures up made me think of Hallowe’en – quite fitting for this weekend – but there were no tricks here, only an undoubted treat.

Clyne showed a wonderful grasp of orchestration, a talent I would happily see replicated on several of her contemporaries. It was as good a start to any symphonic concert I’ve heard.

Soloist Eric Lu was an example of a stand-in whose performance shone brilliantly.

More melodies poured forth in the following work, Chopin’s first Piano Concerto.

I’d label this concerto simply “nice”, as it didn’t really set the pulses racing as many concerti can, and it lacked any soloist-orchestra interaction.

The night theme, conjured up magnificently by Anna Clyne, was maintained, but not by design.

The second movement was, quite simply, an elongated Nocturne – a genre made famous by Chopin – with muted orchestral accompaniment.

The wow factor

Soloist Eric Lu, an eleventh-hour stand-in, seemed a little intimidated by the occasion to start off, but he threw off any shackles in the final Rondo and displayed amazing skill and technique, amidst a flurry of scales and semiquavers, that bordered on the wow factor. It was certainly a case of a stand-in standing out.

I needed a short in the arm in the concert’s second half, and boy did I get it! Many symphonies can claim concerto connotations due to the solos they percolate through the full orchestral sound.

However, Bartok takes it a few steps forward and really puts the cat amongst the pigeons. His Concerto for Orchestra needs little further explanation.

Conductor Tito Munoz.

No department of the orchestra is left unscathed as dynamism and virtuosic skill are insisted on all sides, from percussion to piccolo and from double bass to clarinet.

The individual sections shone on a more unified level, woodwinds one moment, brass the next with the BBC SSO strings collectively excellent throughout.

The result, a mind-blowing exhibition of orchestral expertise that was pulsating, exciting, a not-knowing-where-to-look-next orchestral palette at its most potent.

Letting the music do the talking

To see a world-class symphony orchestra with all the stops pulled out and with everyone at the top of his or her game is one of music’s undoubted pleasures.

Such a work can sometimes lead to an extrovert on the podium, but conductor Tito Munoz, another relatively late replacement, did he what all good conductors do.

He let the music do the talking, and with a mouthpiece like the BBC SSO it came over in magnificent fashion.

Total orchestral brilliance? That’s beyond a doubt, but I dare anyone to find a suitable superlative that nails this magnificent performance on the head. Like me, you’ll probably be found wanting.

Conversation