Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Zacharias, Glasgow

Picture: Ian Rutherford

Picture: Ian Rutherford

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On A night when the wild weather outside was difficult to ignore, Friday night’s Paris-themed programme by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Christian Zacharias was a calming antidote.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Zacharias - City Halls, Glasgow

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Not that it lacked energy or charisma. For these were performances of Haydn, Mozart and Poulenc that took the precision element of the respective scores and shot a clean, sharp lightning bolt through them, bringing them refreshingly to life, but with a sharp-edged refinement that matched poetry with panache.

This is typical of Zacharias, of course, who as a pianist has always brought intelligent probity to such finely-etched repertoire, and who now, as a conductor, does the same from the podium.

The Haydn symphony that opened the programme – No.85, La Reine – was exquisitely detailed and marked by a deftness of touch so delicate, yet so alive. All of which allowed Zacharias to tease out such quirky eccentricities as the stabbing horn in the opening movement, or the perky bassoon in the third movement Trio.

Doubling as soloist in Mozart’s Jeunehomme Piano Concerto – written, like the Haydn, for a Paris audience – Zacharias conjured up a magical conversational rapport with the orchestra, drawing out the subtle darkness of the Andantino against the outer movements’ lustre.

Ravel’s Pavane pour une infanta defunte, deliciously delicate as it was, lacked some genuine warmth. But Poulenc’s Sinfonietta, a neo-classical whirlwind, with a faintly nostalgic nod to Brahms in the Andante, sent us off with a smile. .

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