Music review: Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the Usher Hall. Picture: Jane Barlow

Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the Usher Hall. Picture: Jane Barlow

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BEETHOVEN’S seventh symphony might have had the last word in this concert, but the composer’s spirit was evident elsewhere in this fascinating programme.

Royal Scottish National Orchestra - Usher Hall, Edinburgh

****

There was something of Beethoven’s troubled revolutionary spirit in Thomas Ades’ Violin Concerto, subtitled Concentric Paths. The musical shapes in this beguiling work, which Ades compares to a triptych, demanded every ounce of soloist Augustin Hadelich’s formidable technique, as well as immense precision on the part of conductor Peter Oundjian and the orchestra.

In the unsettling Rings, the oscillating strings and piccolos wandered away from the home key so that they were at tense odds with the other instruments. Paths saw Hadelich on more solid ground, with his turbulent arpeggios reaching into the tonal heart of this work with the basses following suit to plumb the lowest notes. There was a primordial feel to Rounds with drums and breathy flutes underpinning the meandering violin melodies which were set against complex cross rhythms, perfectly executed by an 
on-form orchestra.

Having earlier given a beautiful account of Haydn’s Violin Concerto No 1 in C Major, Hadelich’s choice of Bach’s andante from Sonata No 2 as an encore was perfect, the gentle pulsing ostinato echoing elements of the Ades and setting the scene for Beethoven’s Symphony No 7. Although there was an abundance of energy and dynamic contrast throughout the symphony, the orchestra struggled with the core pulse in the first movement. But from the cello-led allegretto onwards the players pulled together, racing to a finale brimming with unadulterated joy.


Seen on 23.05.14

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