A PARTICULARLY useful trend in concert promotion is the art of taking a selection of works from the ordinary repertoire and presenting it as something special, like the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's recent Steel and Gold Rachmaninov series or its Cathedrals in Sound Bruckner Concerts. The same orchestra is now involved in A Birth of a Century series - not this century, but the last.
There is something particularly fascinating about the more progressive music written round the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. While Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony had more to do with the birth of the 20th century than his Verkkarte Nacht, the latter work proved to be a highly effective companion to Bruckner's Ninth Symphony in the opening concert of the series in Glasgow City Hall.
This had much to do with the way in which YOAV TALMI interpreted the two scores. His approach to Verklaerte Nacht was remarkably spontaneous, with every change of tempo registered as if he had just been moved to it by the emotional pressure of the piece, with the result that the extended single-movement construction held together not by rigid control but by dramatic inspiration. Originally written for string sextet, it cannot have been easy for the massed strings of the BBC SSO to get round it, but they had been well prepared both in ensemble and in making the most of the extended range of colour and expressive variety available to them.
Talmi's approach to Bruckner's Ninth Symphony was a performance that lived also for the moment, one that discovered much sensual beauty of line and one to which the BBC SSO responded with admirable suppleness in phrasing and sensitivity in colouring.