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Lovely solo playing

The Herald, Keith Bruce

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Thomas Søndergård, conductor
Sat 12 October 2019 | 07:30 pm

In a thoughtful piece of early-season programming, music director Thomas Sondergard’s fine account of Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony will be followed next week by Principal Guest Conductor Elim Chan directing the Tenth.

Leaving aside the context of its composition, it is music that is very easy to like, and featured some lovely solo playing here, particularly from Lena Zeliszewska in the leader’s chair, first bassoon David Hubbard and guest principal clarinet and flute, Timothy Orpen and Matthew Featherstone.

… it was very clear how Sondergard now has the measure of the acoustic in the RSNO’s home venue, with playing of precision and clarity across all sections. That was just as true for the opening work, Arnold Bax’s tone poem In the Faery Hills, which is exactly contemporary with the Rachmaninov but could hardly be more different.

Orpen, Hubbard and Zeliszewska were to the fore here too, alongside principal viola Tom Dunn.

Lavishly orchestrated folk whimsy that it is, it had little in common with the rest of the programme but was as eloquent an illustration of the fruitful relationship between this conductor and his musicians as everything that was to come.

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