PROMS / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra - Royal Albert Hall & Radio 3

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
It's hard to believe that Lutoslawski's Livre pour orchestre is 24 years old. Its cultivated modernism - complete with singing string glissandos and spicily adventurous tuning - suggests a composer who has had long opportunity to digest the discoveries of 1960s experimentalism, rather than one who was very much in the thick of it. At the same time, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra were able to perform it with the kind of understanding and feeling that one would expect only in well-established repertoire.

Listening to this beguiling, at times stirring, performance, strongly shaped by conductor Jerzy Maksymiuk, it wasn't hard to believe that Livre pour orchestre is on its way to classic status. From this to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 4 seemed less of a stylistic leap than one would have imagined: here again were the beguiling, swooning phrases, and the abrupt contrasts between hard-edged brass and percussion and voluptuous strings. Soloist Nikolai Demidenko played brilliantly, warmly and with all the panache the finale demands, and the BBC SSO were near-ideal accompanists. Playing was equally fine in Sibelius's Symphony No 7; if the drama wasn't quite elemental, this had more to do with the way Maksymiuk periodically allowed the momentum to drop than with any qualities of expression or sound-colour.