City Halls, Glasgow
However inspiring he is to work with, it can be an exhausting experience just watching and listening to the SCO’s Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev. This concert paired him with another Tiggerish Russian in violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky, whose similarly wide artistic practice embraces conducting and counter-tenor singing.
On more than one occasion on Friday evening it was less than clear who was in charge on stage. All credit to the players for seeming entirely unperturbed by the multiple waving arms, like a willow in the wind.
Journalist David Kettle supplied a very useful and comprehensive programme note to guide the listener through some very unfamiliar music, gathered under the title “Baroque Brio” – and there was plenty vivacity from both Sinkovsky and from Emelyanychev at the keyboard. Even tuning was quite theatrical, with the violinist sharing his pitch by walking around the platform and “Maestro Maxim”, as the soloist called him, finding it necessary to tweak the harpsichord from time to time.
The programme mixed early music by Leclair, Locatelli and Vivaldi with 20th century work that took inspiration from the era by Poulenc and Hungarian Ferenc Farkas. The latter’s Five Ancient Hungarian Dances, in an arrangement by Emelyanychev that called for the largest ensemble of the evening, was arguably the most interesting inclusion, but moved to the penultimate slot in the sequence it was a little lost, and immediately overshadowed by the Vivaldi concerto that followed, with its arresting opening and flamboyant cadenza for Sinkovsky at the end.
Poulenc’s Suite francaise, composed to soundtrack Bourdet’s extravagant stage version of the Dumas novel La reine Margot, is a very witty sparkling seven movements, but the eight movements of Locatelli’s Concerto Capriccioso, which apparently tells the Ariadne auf Naxos story, seemed a long row to hoe.
There is something of another Maxim, Maxim Vengerov, about Sinkovsky, who is a sensational player, but his party-piece Vivaldi solo concluded a performance of the work that was actually more spacious and less bustling that one might have expected, and all the better for it. It mirrored the Violin Concerto in D Major by Jean-Marie Leclair that had opened proceedings. Leclair, whose artistic career included dancing and virtuoso violin as well as composition, was perhaps the most apt inclusion by the concert’s multi-disciplined (but also slightly undisciplined) protagonists.
Pictured: Dmitry Sinkovsky