SCO / Marwood
City Halls, Glasgow
Any journey that ends with Kurt Weill’s 1924 Violin Concerto – the work of a young man yet to form his career-making partnership with Bertolt Brecht – is worth embarking on, but the Scottish Chamber Orchestra took a circuitous way there under the direction of violinist Anthony Marwood.
During its composition, Weill’s teacher Federico Busoni died and that is reflected in the work’s sombre opening. It does lighten in tone in the three-part central movement, however, when the soloist finds foils among the percussion, brass and winds in turn, before becoming a real virtuoso piece in the fast finale. Marwood took a very measured approach to the work, leaving plenty of room to make the conclusion especially dramatic.
The might possibly be said of the whole programme, which leapt about chronologically and in scale. Immediately before the concerto was the only work that could really be seen as its precursor, the Three Dances from Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale. Here was the SCO as a cabaret band and closer to the music that Weill would go on to write, and Marwood clearly relished his devilish part in proceedings.
The programme had begun with music that would not be played until after the Second World War but was written before the First, Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question. The American maverick may have predicted a direction in which music would go, but he was alone on that path in the first decade of the 20th century. It was followed by a singularly playful statement from exiled Russian Alexander Raskatov, Five Minutes from the Life of W A Mozart, from the first year of the 21st.
Haydn’s Symphony No 8 “Le soir” was just – like the Weill – the work of a composer in his 20s, and recently employed by the Esterhazys. After the parody of the Raskatov, here was music both baroque and pictorial, played with sparkling joie de vivre.
The two works on either side of the interval fitted even less well into the already opaque scheme of things: the Adagio from Bruckner’s epic String Quintet and Elgar’s five-minute string work Sospiri, which sounded very dated next to everything else in the second half.
Marwood’s title for this selection box was From Darkness to Light, which did not really help clarify the programme. It was great to hear the Weill, but the route there did seem a little random.