Classical review: SCO, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Contributed

Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Contributed

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A STELLAR line-up of soloists – four musicians from the SCO joined by cellist Philip Higham and pianist Tom Poster – blew the dust off gems by three composers who were born within seven years of each other, and who were household names in their day, in this exhilarating concert of chamber music.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra | Rating: **** | Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Franz Schreker’s Der Wind quintet for violin (Stephanie Gonley), clarinet (Maximiliano Martin), horn (Alec Frank-Gemmill), cello and piano is a short dreamy piece which transports the listener to an otherworldly realm with its rippling piano accompaniment and long, flowing melodies on the horn and clarinet.

More grounded, but no less romantic, the Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano in D minor has Alexander von Zemlinsky channelling Brahms as the musicians revelled in the rich tonality, overly dramatic gestures and deft interplay between the instruments.

The best known work of the three was the Sextet in C Major, Op 37 by Ernst von Dohnanyi. Joined by violist Jane Atkins, the musicians rode this roller­coaster of a piece with aplomb. From the outset, von Dohnanyi out-does Wagner at every turn with his lush score which is orchestral in scope and ambition, and there was much to savour in this dazzling performance.

From the cascades of notes tripping off Poster’s fingers in the voyage-like opening, through the broody lyricism of the horn and clarinet melodies in the middle movements to the foot-tapping jazz-infused finale – constantly interrupted by a dizzy waltz – this was music-making at its most intense and exciting.

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