Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Usher Hall. Picture: Neil Hanna
Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Usher Hall. Picture: Neil Hanna
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BEETHOVEN’S inspired setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy, which ends his Symphony No 9 in D minor, is now so well-known in its own right it’s easy to forget how radical the entire work was and, in many ways, still is.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Usher Hall, Edinburgh

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Under the baton of their newly appointed principal guest conductor, Emmanuel Krivine, the SCO’s augmented forces bristled with energy and purpose.

Following a minor wobble at the start, the orchestra soon settled into the declamatory mood of the first movement. With brooding kettledrum rolls, tremolo strings and some exquisite bassoon lines, the scene was set for the unfolding drama. A lively scherzo and trio contrasting with a more tranquil and melodious adagio, led to a sense of anticipation as the fanfares subside and the cellos softly unveil the Ode to Joy theme. This undergoes numerous inventive variations ratcheting up the tension until the SCO Chorus and quartet of soloists finally sing.

Well-drilled by chorusmaster Gregory Batsleer, the chorus sang superbly and with passion, as did the excellent line-up of soloists: soprano Ruth Ziesak, mezzo Carolin Masur, tenor Dominik Wortig and bass-baritone Konstantin Wolff. The joyous vocal contributions floated over the more agitated thoughts of the orchestra with the high-pitched piccolo joining the conversation with the muttering bassoons once again having lots to say. Krivine carefully melded all these elements with aplomb to create a riveting and uplifting finale.

In the first half, Krivine and the orchestra delivered a crisp Overture, Scherzo and Finale by Schumann.

Seen on 08.05.14