Scot­tish Cham­ber Or­ches­tra

The Scotsman - - Reviews - SU­SAN NICKALLS

Queen’s Hall, Ed­in­burgh

RECORD­INGS of church bells from across Scot­land fea­ture in Martin Suck­ling’s at­mo­spheric new work, Med­i­ta­tion (af­ter Donne), com­mis­sioned by the SCO to mark the centenary of the 1918 Ar­mistice.

Taking John Donne’s plea for a shared hu­man­ity in his Med­i­ta­tion XVII for in­spi­ra­tion, Suck­ling beau­ti­fully evokes the con­flict­ing emo­tions that peace brings. Keen­ing strings and the mourn­ful wail of an oboe are united by the solemn tolling of the bells which segue into bird song in the fi­nal bars of this mov­ing el­egy.

Con­duct­ing and play­ing an in­stru­ment at the same time is a bit like one-handed jug­gling and Ni­co­las Alt­staedt just about man­aged this feat in Schu­mann’s Cello Con­certo. His phe­nom­e­nal tech­nique, full-bod­ied tone and en­er­getic stage pres­ence gave im­pe­tus to his lively in­ter­pre­ta­tion. But there was of­ten a lack of bal- ance be­tween the cello and or­ches­tral sound and the over­all dy­nam­ics could have been more var­ied and nu­anced.

Wag­ner’s Siegfried Idyll, orig­i­nally writ­ten as a birth­day ser­e­nade for his wife, also strug­gled to find co­her­ence, with Alt­staedt un­will­ing to un­furl the work’s gor­geous op­er­atic tex­tures and lyri­cism. Fur­ther­more, the in­ti­mate warmth of the wood­winds wasn’t matched by the strings, their sound skele­tal for the most part.

Beethoven’s Sym­phony No 8 with its sur­pris­ing key changes, is quite a rad­i­cal work. At last the chem­istry be­tween Alt­staedt and the or­ches­tra seemed to gel as they pulled out all the stops in a crack­ing per­for­mance. The rum­ble of tim­pani, el­e­gant bas­soon lines and the basses driv­ing the beat were su­perb.

Ni­co­las Alt­staedt’s tech­nique is phe­nom­e­nal, but there was a lack of balance be­tween the cello and or­ches­tral sound

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.