The Scotsman

Canny connection­s and contrasts

- JJJJ David Kettle

Scottish Chamber Orchestra/thomas Adès, Emma Posman (soprano)

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Giving a world premiere by arguably Britain’s hottest composer is already quite something (even if it’s – admittedly – an orchestrat­ion of an existing piece). But to have composer/conductor Thomas Adès on the podium to conduct it was quite a coup for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – and it felt like a collaborat­ion that both Adès and the orchestra lapped up.

His new/old The Origin of the Harp – originally written for ten musicians in 1994 – was music of strangenes­s and wonder in its fresh incarnatio­n, with ideas in a state of perpetual flow and transforma­tion, bringing in weird and wonderful colours from a duo of hyperactiv­e

percussion­ists, struck piano insides, thumb pianos and more. The results, though, were thoroughly beguiling, and brought brilliantl­y alive by Adès.

It formed the midpoint in what was quite a cerebral collection of pieces, threaded together by canny connection­s and contrasts. Adès seemed to revel in the sonic strangenes­s of Haydn’s Symphony No. 64, whose enigmatica­lly sparse slow movement seemed to prefigure the halting, faltering Mozart fragments that coalesce ( just about) in John Woolrich’s collage-like The Theatre Represents a Garden: Night, played with such tenderness and delicacy that it sometimes felt on the verge of dissolving completely.

Far more gutsy was Judith Weir’s Heroic Strokes of the Bow, driven through with rugged urgency in Adès’s compelling account – and the ideal counterpar­t for his closing sections from Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus. With her liquid, silvery soprano, Emma Posman had earlier made an ideal interprete­r in Mozart’s aria ‘Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio’. There was a lot to take in, across several contrastin­g musical styles. But Adès’s enthusiasm and authority – also evident in a couple of warm introducti­ons – brought it all together superbly.

 ?? ?? Thomas Adès
Thomas Adès

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