The Herald - - ARTS -



Carnegie Hall, Dun­fermline

Keith Bruce


IF the arith­metic is per­mit­ted to in­clude the live broad­cast from Vi­enna on the morn­ing of New Year’s Day, the RSNO’S tour­ing Vi­en­nese Gala con­cert brought my to­tal of those fes­tive con­certs to the same as my Mes­si­ahs this sea­son. And like the three per­for­mances of Han­del’s mas­ter­work, they proved how dif­fer­ent the same thing can be.

Be­yond the Blue Danube, con­duc­tor Stephen Bell’s pro­gramme was less about ex­plor­ing dance mu­sic, as the Scot­tish Cham­ber Orches­tra had done, and more about the theatre of the thing. That was en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate for this date in par­tic­u­lar, with the sym­phony orches­tra – al­beit a rel­a­tively com­pact edi­tion of the RSNO – shoe­horned on to the prosce­nium arch stage and Bell and so­prano Ail­ish Tynan hav­ing no op­tion but to make their en­trances and ex­its through an au­di­to­rium door rather than the wings.

Both were per­fectly cho­sen for the oc­ca­sion, the Ir­ish singer in her el­e­ment on the op­eretta reper­toire, ex­pres­sive and with both per­fect con­trol and enor­mous charm. As he has of­ten shown with the BBC SSO at Proms in the Park, Bell has huge re­spect for light mu­sic, and de­liv­ers it in an in­for­ma­tive and, given the op­por­tu­nity, amus­ing style - his comic tim­ing more than com­pen­sat­ing the fa­mil­iar­ity of his jokes.

Be­sides the Strauss fam­ily, Franz Le­har was the fea­tured com­poser here with the Gold And Sil­ver Waltz, which closed the first half, and the Over­ture to The Land Of Smiles in­stru­men­tal high­lights and Tynan’s per­for­mance of Vilja Lied from The Merry

Widow in­evitably the stand­out of her se­lec­tions.

There were some fine less well­known in­clu­sions as well. Emile Wald­teufel’s Stu­dent Waltz sounds so quintessen­tially Vi­en­nese no-one would have known oth­er­wise had

Bell not said, while the Ro­manze No 1 was en­tirely un­char­ac­ter­is­tic Jo­hann Strauss II, and one of a num­ber of fea­tures for first cello Betsy Tay­lor.

Con­sid­er­ing that many of the mu­si­cians had only just re­turned from a de­mand­ing tour in China, the vi­vac­ity they brought to this mu­sic – which is es­sen­tial to its suc­cess

– was a real achieve­ment.

Bravo, RSNO.

„ So­prano Ail­ish Tynan had to make en­trance through a door.

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