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Bela Fleck and the BBCSSO play Celtic Connections / theguardian

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What's the best way to tune a banjo? With a wire cutter. The much-derided banjo, despite its African roots and history in slavery, remains the butt of a thousand bad jokes among musicians. You wonder what they'd make of the charismatic Béla Fleck – widely considered the instrument's greatest exponent – showcasing his dazzling array of licks over a huge swath of gushing strings and an urgent barrage of woodwind. One of the most intriguing of the genre fusions for which Celtic Connections festival is rightly lauded, Fleck's Concerto for Banjo – pointedly titled The Imposer – is a compelling curio. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra rise boldly to the challenge of making the UK's coming out party for the banjo a memorably grand and at times startling occasion.

There is playfulness as well as sinister darkness in the jagged confusion of styles, the imposing Fleck smiling like a naughty schoolboy as he trades melodies with the "proper musicians". Banjo duelling is one thing, but duelling with the rampaging violin section of an orchestra relishing the sport is quite another. Fleck's nimble tones flirt mischievously with the brass in the back line and, while subtleties are sometimes submerged in the cacophony, you emerge with the breathless – if slightly uneasy – thrill of a scary fairground ride.  READ THE FULL guardian REVIEW