Classical review: SCO: Goerne sings Schubert, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

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WORLD-RENOWNED German baritone Matthias Goerne was clearly the star attraction in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s cleverly constructed concert – and understandably so.

SCO: Goerne sings Schubert

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

****

But in reality, his vibrant Schubert songs were only one highlight in an evening of extremely fine music making that put principal conductor Robin Ticciati’s precise yet spirited direction right in the spotlight.

Highly regarded for his lieder performances, Goerne didn’t disappoint in a varied selection of Schubert songs orchestrated by Webern, Reger, Brahms and others.

He was a magnetic presence, but his singing was superbly controlled and finely judged, even understated at times, as he swelled gently into phrases in the opening An Sylvia and delivered the tragic Thränenregen with limpid simplicity.

He was saving his energy, though, for a spine-tingling final Erlkönig, whose supernatural night-time chase he conveyed in a terrifyingly intense performance, driven on by Ticciati’s surging accompaniment. No wonder he was summoned back for an encore, a resplendent An die Musik.

There was another orchestration beforehand – Webern’s wittily pointillist version of the ricercar from Bach’s Musical Offering, the ideal vehicle for Ticciati’s precise, detailed conducting. After the interval, Ticciati perhaps went a little too far in his micro-managed phrasing of the famous adagietto from Mahler’s fifth symphony, although it was full of exquisite moments.

Schubert returned to close the concert, in Ticciati’s fresh, buoyant account of the youthful fifth symphony. With a natural feel for its fun and elegance, he made a strong case for the tuneful work in a beautifully turned reading that glowed with a touching sincerity.

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