Concert Review: RSNO, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall


It is widely known that music is a great healer.

Whether it be for happiness, grief, sorrow or lust, we all have a unique soundtrack to our lives, and on this particular night, my chosen cure was classical.

On February 4, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra performed their stunning concert with soloist Katherine Bryan on flute.

Katherine Bryan
Katherine Bryan source:

The ensemble opened the night’s production with a stirring rendition of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ beloved ‘The Lark Ascending’, with Bryan leading on flute.

This would be considered rather unusual, given that the masterpiece was originally composed for, and largely played, on violin.

However, this did not faze anyone in the orchestra, not least Bryan herself.

Right from the opening chord, this recital captivated and uplifted its Glasgow audience, and not a single gaze was averted from the stage.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

The familiarity of the music allowed the musicians of this orchestra to reach into our hearts, to pluck upon the strings, and draw the most intricate of melodies.  And it was exhilarating.

Viewers were then treated to a world premiere of Glasgow composer Martin Suckling’s newest score, ‘The White Road’.

Inspired by a trip into the mountains, this impressive new talent transports the listener through the chilling beauty and underlying danger of the remote countryside, in all its tranquillity.

The White Road’s’ debut was met with intense appreciation, and the thrilling transitions between the gentle lullaby of the flute and strings to the flurrying and furious action of drums and woodwind earned. Suckling the seal of approval he so deserved.

Following a short interval, the orchestra then executed an excellent performance of Maurice Ravel’sDaphnis et Chloe Suites Nos 1 & 2’.

Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel

Performed in three parts, both suites were an absolute pleasure to hear, and listeners could take delight in the whirlwind of emotion and passion, brought to the surface with the caress of woodwind solos, and towards its climax, the thrashing and excitement of percussion.

Safe to say, tonight’s timpani player was then rightfully given his own round of applause.

And, just as you thought this night had come to an end, our conductor took to the stage once more, beckoning a further roar of approval and applause.

He then took us by surprise, beginning what can only be described as perhaps the most divinely beautifully, in fact, ethereal performance I have had the pleasure of witnessing.

Tonight’s bonus?  Edward Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’.

Statue of Edward Elgar in Hereford
Statue of Edward Elgar in Hereford

I believe it is entirely safe to say that there were very few, if any, dry eyes left in this concert hall.  Those who do not believe classical to be one of the most emotive and complex genres, should be exposed to this monumental score, a true classical treasure.

This stunning score can often be heard in the Festival of Remembrance, as well as other commemorative events for the First and Second World War.

But to hear it in this context, with no warning whatsoever, was equally as emotive, and I am sure it will remain etched into my memory for a lifetime.

It brought shivers to the spine, and tears to our eyes, not least a glowing to the heart.

For those of you who have previously debated attending a classical concert, I will tell you this. Please, do not hesitate. I can promise you, following this incredible performance, that you will NOT be disappointed.

If anything, you will leave Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall feeling dizzy with elation, and feeling far more empowered than when you entered.

To find out about the RSNO’s upcoming events, please visit their website.

Author: Amy Maguire

I am currently a student at college, and I love writing reviews, informative pieces, and most of all, creative writing. Here, you will find my own short stories, and other pieces that I may upload as well :)

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