Review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City Hall,, Glasgow, five stars

Review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City Hall,, Glasgow, five stars 9126003

City Hall, Glasgow

Keith Bruce

five stars

THE first of a series of three concerts featuring the music of Mendelssohn, and directed by three fasci-nating conductors, this programme set the bar very high indeed for what promises to be a superb end to the concert year by the SCO.

The composer’s late cantata Walpurgisnacht, not simply setting a fable by Goethe but created in part-nership with the writer, is less performed these days than its genesis warrants, perhaps because it re-quires the participation of tenor and contralto singers in little more than cameo roles. Martin Mit-terrutzner and the statuesque Hilary Summers were both in fine voice, but the bulk of the singing was by baritone Huw Montague Rendall, whose differentiation between roles in the story was first rate, and the SCO chorus, proving once again that it is in a class of its own with this repertoire.

Not only is it a narrative work of huge charm created by two masters of their art, Walpurgisnacht also has profound political message that still resonates as well as being fashioned from ingredients that are once again quite a la mode. The fine instrumental playing included particularly memorable clarinet by William Stafford.

This was an unusual-looking SCO, with seven brass for the preceding overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, among the best known and melodically finest of the composer’s work. Conductor Laurence Equilbey made it sound absolutely fresh with her meticulous attention to dynamic range and detail and the rigorous rhythmic pulse that throbbed through the entire performance. Join-ing the women of the chorus here were mezzo Jessica Gillingwater and the now very familiar soprano Rowan Pierce, whose presence is a welcome treat on any concert platform.

Composed at either end of Mendelssohn’s tragically brief career, this music is the story of a precocious teenage talent and a mature master craftsman that everyone knows, even when they don’t know that they do, but this concert made it seem like an entirely new tale.

Source : HeraldScotland

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