Classical review: SCO, St Mary’s, Haddington

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THIS scintillating performance of well-known classics, on the first leg of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s (SCO) annual summer tour, augers well for the concerts to come over the next few months.

SCO

ST MARY’s, HADDINGTON

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Although this was familiar repertoire, conductor Christian Baldini, making his SCO debut, exercised a keen ear for detail although this did not always come across in St Mary’s expansive acoustics.

By and large, it was the more lyrical and simply structured pieces that worked best, such as the Mozart operatic overtures to Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito – particularly the latter with its flowing melodies and precise rhythms – and Weber’s stunning Clarinet Concertino.

Running at no more than ten minutes, this might be a short work, but it brims with virtuosity, with soloist, SCO principal Maximiliano Martin revelling in the rippling arpeggios and shimmering
trills.

Equally brief was Martin’s encore, Bela Kovacs’s Hommage a Kodaly, which also showed off Martin’s mellifluous tone and seamless phrasing.

Haydn’s Symphony No 102 in B flat major began well enough with the strings in sparkling form but because the acoustics tended to favour them, some of the more interesting woodwind detail was overshadowed, as was the subtle cello solo in the adagio.

Underscored by the crackling pulse of the timpani, Beethoven’s Symphony No 1 in C major fared much better.

The breezy scale runs, lilting dotted rhythms and swerving off-beats sounded crisp and stylish with the SCO fizzing with energy right to Beethoven’s teasing, slightly whimsical ending.

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