RSNO: Gardolińska / Dvorak 7
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
In her debut with the RSNO, Polish conductor Marta Gardolińska begins on home territory. She recalls, in her spoken introduction, the very folksongs her grandmother once sang to her, which Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski incorporates into his Little Suite (Mała Suita) for orchestra.
As a starter then – indeed as the single indigenous work in a programme filed under the RSNO’s Polska Scotland tag – this delightful Lutoslawski gem from the 1950s finds the emergent conductor, orchestra and music wholly at one. It’s a fine induction for the earnestly fastidious Gardolińska, whose associateship in recent years with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has not gone unnoticed.
She brings a springlike freshness to Lutoslawski’s occasionally skittish suite, drawing infinite mood and colour from his limitless manipulation of the folk material. Those delicate lyrical strands, variously offset by Stravinskian rhythmic warfare or belligerent or woozy hints of jazz, forever stay refreshed by the persistent polytonal harmonies that spread an even spiciness throughout and give this music its exotic transparency.
The contrasting heft of Dvorak’s Symphony No 7, much more elemental in concept to the instant popularity of the Eighth and Ninth, isn’t so initially comfortable in Gardolińska’s hands. There’s a cumbersome stolidity that weighs down the initial outward journey, which lacks the inevitability pushing onwards and upwards to that first gloriously resolute legato melody. Too much maestoso; not enough allegro, perhaps.
It’s not long, though, before the cogs begin to align, and by the close of the opening movement there’s a sense we’re going places, even if the subdued calm of the final bars crave greater amplitude.
Gardolińska’s leisurely amble through the slow movement recalls the folkish hues of the Lutoslawski, with shapely intertwined soloing from all corners of the orchestra. The scherzo sensibly plays itself, and in the finale, the ignited, inexorable passion is more the force of nature it should have been in the very opening bars.
It’s interesting to see the chemistry between Gardolińska and the RSNO grow as the symphony progresses, even though this is a recorded performance. That alone sends a message that she’ll be very welcome back.
Available to view at www.rsno.org.uk