People will be auctioning tickets for Simon Trpceski soon. His spectacular debuts in the last few months at the Barbican and now the Proms didn't sell out, but it's only afterwards that word really gets around. As well as a piano technique equal to extremes of both power and delicacy, his playing wrestles with the untamed beast of artistic expression and sometimes makes it behave itself all too well. Showing up with a concerto by the ultra-civilised Saint-Saëns looked like a decision to do just that. But with Trpceski you never know when he'll let the beast loose.
A moody, severe, even angry opening switched gracefully to an interlude of deft, quiet fantasy, and then the big build-up began. Everything went smoothly, then Trpceski produced a thunderous left-hand accent, out of the blue and right out of proportion, and the whole process went into overdrive. The rest of the movement raged and sorrowed, and gave the obsessive lingering over a theme borrowed from the composer's favourite pupil, Fauré, a perfectly believable air of lost love, as tragic as Tchaikovsky.
The scherzo was so light and fleet that you could hear the audience holding its collective breath. Trpceski didn't quite know what to do with the clumsy tune that interrupts at times: he marked its arrival and then charged on, impatient to get it out of the way. There was a breakneck finale, perfectly nuanced; then a featherweight, introspective encore, Rachmaninov's Daisies.
Otherwise, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, with its long-time conductor Joseph Swensen, matched the soloist for dash and ardour, and in a programme notable for the quantity of high-adrenalin, fast music showed itself adept in ensemble and balance.
There were times in this performance of the Second when more strings would have done better by the music's weight and power, but the unusual precision and clarity were worth the sacrifice. Swensen made the depths of the slow movement both spacious and restless, acknowledging detail, yet always keeping sight of the big picture.
A second Proms debut, unbelievably, was that of the Czech Suite by Dvorak. Somehow, nobody had got round to programming it before, and it's one of several instances where the season's focus on this composer is paying off. All this and symphonies 6 and 8 as well. The SCO began at a prosaic jog but, as the melodies flowed, the last minutes caught fire.
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