Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Edinburgh

Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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Teenagers get such a bad press, it can be easy to forget the strength that lies in those intense years in the run-up to 20. Richard Strauss was just 19 when he wrote his Horn Concerto No 1 in 1883 – a work peppered with emotional depths that belie his tender years, yet with a precocious structure that feels very age-specific.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

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Playing it alongside another Strauss work, Duet-Concertino for Clarinet and Bassoon (written in the twilight of his career, aged 83) the Scottish Chamber Orchestra not only gave us a “man and boy” comparison, but some very fine solo work from within the orchestra’s ranks.

Superb 28-year-old horn player, Alex Frank-Gemmill, met Strauss’s teenage talent head on, absorbing the music into his bloodstream and handing it back to the audience with a passionate flourish.

It’s not often that clarinettists and bassoonists get to burst out of the back row, so it was a pleasure to see Maximiliano Martin and Peter Whelan standing front and centre for the Duet-Concertino.

Strauss wrote the piece about a bear and a princess dancing, but Martin and Whelan’s duet felt more like a conversation, that moved from discourteous banter to mutual understanding.

Great, also, to see such movement in the body; with Martin shaking out notes from his clarinet with a flick of the shoulder, and Whelan giving us a rare glimpse of the bassoon in action.

Throughout, animated young German conductor Clemens Schuldt did his fellow country-man proud – as with the spirited Mozart symphonies that completed the bill.

Seen on 03.05.14