Music review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra perform
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra perform
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After last week’s underwhelming season opener, the SCO was back on form and running on rocket fuel as they delivered a punchy, effervescent account of Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro with conductor Thierry Fischer, stepping in for an indisposed Robin Ticciati.

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh ****

The SCO’s principal conductor was instrumental in commissioning Martin Suckling’s Piano Concerto for Tom Poster, given its world premiere here. It is the solo piano’s jagged, dissonant chord clusters anchored to a repeated middle note that sets the tone for the ensuing orchestral mosaic. The fragmentary nature of the music, particular the overly complex rhythms, caused some slippage between the piano and ensemble in the first intermezzo despite the overall precision and attention to detail from Fischer and the players.Poster is an engaging pianist and his superb musicianship shone through, especially in the quieter more structured second intermezzo – Luminous – where the piano was framed by ethereal cut-glass harmonics. At times this ambitious work was uneven and unvaried. It only began to cohere in the final minutes when Suckling started flexing his impressive compositional muscles.

There was detailed substance in the orchestral texture with Poster reeling the music in from the outer reaches of the piano keyboard towards the centre through a thin gauze of shimmering strings. There was more high-octane energy from Fischer and the orchestra, with Poster on piano, as they romped through Richard Strauss’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, which pays tribute to Lully’s music for Moliere’s 17th century play. Delightfully indulgent and excessive in every way.

SUSAN NICKALLS