WITH its funding slashed in half last year, and the abrupt departure of its previous chief executive at Christmas, the past 12 months for the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland have been less than rosy.
However, this week’s UK concert tour by the flagship NYOS, culminating in Sunday’s appearance (with the BBC SSO) at the London Proms, and featuring Nicola Benedetti as soloist, point to sunnier times.
They were in action on Thursday in Glasgow, in a performance that rocked between a shaky first half of Wagner and Bruch, and a transformed second half that culminated in Respighi’s glittering tone poem The Pines of Rome.
The initial problem lay in the hands of New Zealand conductor Tecwyn Evans, whose leadership in Wagner’s overture Die Meistersingers von Nürnberg lacked incision (leading to unnecessarily limp attacks), and whose equally loose-limbed accompaniment to Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy left solo violinist Benedetti struggling to put real and necessary zest into the performance. You got the feeling she was pushing hard to turn up the heat, but getting little response.
Something happened to invigorate the youngsters’ confidence in the second half. There was genuine rhythmic tautness in New Zealander John Psatha’s Seikilos, a Greek-inspired work that harnesses mesmeric minimalist ideals, and in which Evans at last found inspiration to raise his game.
Then the seismic finale – a sizzling account of Respighi’s exultant paean to the glories of ancient Rome. In London, NYOS will play under Donald Runnicles. That will make a telling difference all round.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west