Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Nicola Benedetti, Glasgow

Violinist Nicola Benedetti was poised, confident and focused. Picture: Contributed
Violinist Nicola Benedetti was poised, confident and focused. Picture: Contributed
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There were full houses all weekend for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. For such is the phenomenon that is violinist Nicola Benedetti, she could be playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and every seat would sell like hot cakes.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Nicola Benedetti - City Halls, Glasgow

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But she wasn’t. In this tuneful cocktail of Mozart and Beethoven, her moment in the spotlight was Mozart’s Turkish-flavoured Violin Concerto in A, No 5.

Friday’s Glasgow performance was poised and confident. With a tone that was clean and focused, and spiritedly supported by the responsive SCO, Benedetti captured the concerto’s multi-flavoured ambivalence: on the one hand, its rich golden lyricism; on the other, its raunchy exuberance. There were moments where French conductor Jérémie Rhorer’s rigid beat failed to pick up on the soloist’s nuances, but when he simply let the SCO do its own thing, the magic happened.

There will rarely be an appearance when Benedetti wouldn’t be expected to produce an encore. The liquid calm of her unaccompanied Bach satisfied the inevitable crowd expectation.

Framing the Mozart, Rhorer directed two engaging Beethoven performances, the popular overture to Goethe’s drama Egmont, and the symphony that has always suffered in popularity from coming between the Eroica and the Fifth, the Symphony in B flat, No 4.

These were solid, thoughtful accounts: Egmont churning with heat, though awkwardly balanced in favour of the brass at times; the Fourth Symphony honouring its lithesome Haydnesque fingerprints, and coming to a sizzling conclusion courtesy of the mercurial thematic gymnastics of the finale.

Seen on 25.04.14