Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Keith Bruce

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three stars

THERE were always many uncertainties, as well as boxes to tick, with this week's RSNO programme. As well as commemorating Remembrance Day in partnership with Poppy Scotland and marking the centenary of the Russian revolution with the Twelfth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, "The Year 1917", it was also to feature whichever pianist won the Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas and the world premiere of a new commission generated through the orchestra's Composer's Hub initiative with the PRS for Music Foundation.

Add to that the fact that Venezuelan Jose Luis Gomez was the second replacement conductor for the concerts, and what we were hearing was assuredly the players under leader Maya Iwabuchi pulling on the full riches of their own resources. Gomez, by all accounts, arrived well prepared for Shostakovich 12, but this has long been core repertoire for the RSNO and it showed in a powerful expressionistic performance that was all about the music rather than any programmatic ambiguity, with some fine solo turns, notably principal trombone Davur Juul Magnussen.

Royal Northern College of Music graduate Daniel Kidane studied under Scotland's David Horne, but there was little of his teacher's spikiness in Zulu, which seemed to take a little too much of its five minutes to give the orchestra interesting things to do, although it ended with a flourish.

Arguably Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto is also a longer road than it need be, and perhaps not the ideal showpiece for a player of the delicacy of young South Korean Yekwon Sunwoo. His technical ability extended from the keyboard to some frantic winklepicker action going on beneath, but the demanding first movement cadenza seemed too much like an exercise in dynamics and "expression", and it was not until the transition into the finale that he seemed to be finding the soul of the music.