RSNO Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Usher Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Andrey Boreyko and  Ilya Gringolts
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Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Victoria Vita Polevá, Nova (Scottish Premiere); A Tchaikowsky, Violin Concerto (UK Premiere); Tchaikovsky, Suite from The Nutcracker.
Andrey Boreyko (conductor), Ilya Gringolts (violin), RSNO Youth Chorus, Patrick Barrett (director, RSNO Youth Choruses)
Running time

This was a concert of two very different halves. The second half was such a comfortable traditional introducion to the Christmas season; the first half was gritty. In the first half were two premieres critically associated with the evening's conductor and the soloist. It was they who told us all about it in the pre concert talk. They were confident and fascinating. Christopher Hart, principal trumpet, introduced the concert from his desk.

Victoria Vita Polevá travelled from Ukraine in 2022 to give the score of her Nova to  conductor Andrey Boreyko in Warsaw. He conducted its first performance with his Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. It is what the composer describes as martial music, although it wasn't far short of military with overtones of the war in Ukraine. But the surprise came two thirds of the way through with a short excerpt from Jeremiah Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary - a reference to King George VI in the Second World War. I felt Nova was a worthy listen in its nine or so minutes.

Andrey Boreyko told us that he immediately contacted violinist Ilya Gringolts when, very recently, the score of André Tchaikowsky's Concerto Classico for Violin and Orchestra reached him from at the bottom of a laundry basket. Tchaikowsky wrote the work inspired by his close friend Sylvia Rosenberg. It was completed by 1964 by which time he and Sylvia had fallen out. But almost fifty years later the score was found in Sylvia Rosenberg's laundry and given its first performance in Warsaw in 2021 by our conductor and soloist. André Tchaikowsky's life was particularly complicated and sadly he died aged 46. What we heard could almost have been chamber music with Ilya Gringolts' violin weaving in and out, sometimes intimate, other times sharp and jarring.

The second half's Selection from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker was enhanced by the spectacular voices of the large RSNO Youth Chorus sitting on raised seating behind the Orchestra, and so well prepared by Patrick Barrett, their Director. As a concert, the slightly uncomfortable beginning was more than compensated for by the familiar ending - as well as the knowledge of the conductor's and soloist's history of collaboration.

Event: Friday 8th December 2023 at 7.30pm