Music review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra in action - here with conductor Robin Ticciati Photo: Marco Borggreve
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra in action - here with conductor Robin Ticciati Photo: Marco Borggreve
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Full marks to the SCO who showed their true mettle in a concert without a conductor or the scheduled soloist – both Robin Ticciati and pianist Igor Levit cancelled because of ill health – so Benjamin Marquise ­Gilmore stepped up to the plate to lead from the violin in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.1.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra ***

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

With its contrapuntal intricacies, this is a challenging work at the best of times and this skittish, imprecise ­performance perfectly ­demonstrated why orchestras need conductors. By dint of being the loudest instruments, the boisterous horns dominated and drove this piece, upsetting the overall sound balance. While the basses, cellos and harpsichord provided a rock solid base, Gilmore’s violin solos could hardly be heard.

Schumann’s Piano Concerto, with Javier Perianes directing from the piano, also had more than a few ragged edges. But it’s a work the orchestra know well and they responded to Perianes’ colourful flamboyance, especially in the first movement.

He has a rich tone and a lightness of touch which shone in his interactions with the woodwind and string sections, even if the last movement was a touch on the slow side.

The orchestra went into autopilot for another old favourite, Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 The Clock.

There was plenty of bite in the strings and crack of the timpani in the opening presto while the putt-putting of the bassoon steadily ticked away the seconds in the andante. After the grandeur of the ­minuet, the players pulled out all the stops for the lively finale.