United Kingdom Lazić, Chopin, Mussorgsky: Dejan Lazić (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Thomas Søndergård (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 23.10.2015 (SRT)
Lazić: Overture from Piano Concerto in Istrian Style
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)
Dejan Lazić already hinted at his compositional credentials with his arrangement (and recording) of Brahms’ Violin Concerto for the piano, but I had no idea that he had written a whole piano concerto. Tonight we got the first movement only, but it was a very effective taster, full of irregular rhythms, melodic cross-patterns and vivacious textures, together with a not inconsiderable ear for orchestration. Composer-performers are pretty rare these days, and it’s a joy to see one in action.
Lazić also demonstrated his skill brilliantly in the Chopin concerto, balancing the muscular textures of the first movement with the gossamer lightness of the faster sections, and he had a lovely rhapsodic style for the slow movement, for all that he laid on the legato with a trowel. The orchestra’s contribution was equally remarkable, though. Thomas Søndergård, the RSNO’s Principal Guest Conductor, showed a symphonic approach to Chopin, with lush, Romantic strings and an opulent coda; but those same strings showed accompaniment of delectable sensitivity in the slow movement. It was absolutely magical.
There was magic and plenty of colour for Mussorgsky’s Pictures, too, with a brass section showing off their flare from top (bright-as-a-button trumpets in the promenade, and for the yappy Schmuyle) to bottom (rich, rounded trombones and tuba for the Catacombs). One of the best things about Ravel’s orchestration is its opportunity for solo show, and everything was firmly in its place, from the lilting saxophone of The Old Castle to the thunderous tuba of Bydlo. I really enjoyed Søndergård’s shaping of the sound, though. Gnomus was chaotic yet also very precise, and the Limoges Market, for all its commotion, was admirably precise. Baba Yaga’s hut seemed to be moving through the air on speed, and the procession through the Great Gate duly raised the roof.