Na­tional Youth Or­ches­tra of Canada

Usher Hall

The Scotsman - - Festival Reviews - CAROL MAIN

Hav­ing won the ti­tle of Best Youth Or­ches­tra in the World in 1996, the Na­tional Youth Or­ches­tra of Canada has clearly set the bar high since then to re­tain its po­si­tion within the top in­ter­na­tional ech­e­lons of young peo­ple’s mu­sic-mak­ing. In Tues­day’s Usher Hall pro­gramme, which showed off their ca­pa­bil­i­ties, rang­ing from full-blooded gutsi­ness in the UK pre­miere of Cana­dian com­poser John Esta­cio’s at­mo­spheric Moon­tides to sus­tain­ing the hugely chal­leng­ing muted con­tem­pla­tion of Vaughan Wil­liams’ A Pas­toral Sym­phony, NYOC were in­vari­ably con­fi­dent and as­sured.

The string sound glis­tens and shim­mers, while brass are rich yet mel­low, with con­duc­tor Jonathan Dar­ling­ton sen­si­tively al­low­ing space for the or­ches­tra – and au­di­ence – to en­joy its ex­pan­sive bloom. Winds brought a time­less in­no­cence to Co­p­land’s Ap­palachian Spring, whether in pre­cise en­sem­ble pas­sages or so­los across the sec­tion. Pick­ing up on the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War, the Vaughan Wil­liams was a me­an­der­ing re­flec­tion of his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences in the bat­tle­fields of France.

The lush­ness of string sound, ap­pear­ing in swells and swathes, suited his writ­ing well, with the word­less singing from off-stage mezzo so­prano, Mar­jorie Mal­tais, a mo­ment of par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance.

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