This RSNO concert was a veritable “garden of delights”.
Such, in fact, is the title of Swedish composer B Tommy Andersson’s swirling musical representation of painter Hieronymus Bosch’s famous Renaissance triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, which opened the programme. Placing it alongside Mahler’s Alpine-scented Blumine and Songs of a Wayfarer, and the rocky landscape of Sibelius’s Symphony No 2, was tantamount to planning a musical botanical garden.
In charge of it all was RSNO principal guest conductor, Thomas Søndergård, carving out these exquisite landscapes with intuitive definition.
Andersson’s music opened and closed in a riot of colour, the Danish conductor demanding unbridled attitude from the screaming horns and aggressive pizzicato basses at the outset, before allowing the music to settle into the central adagio, as impressionistic as Andersson’s persuasively gaunt language would allow.
The colours softened completely in Mahler’s short and sentimental Blumine – the original second movement of his First Symphony – its alluringly syrupy trumpet solo striking just the right tone in anticipation of baritone Roderick Williams’s spellbinding delivery of the Songs of a Wayfarer. Williams engaged his audience completely, drawing us into Mahler’s highly personal world of lost love with gripping understatement, and giving the entire cycle a compelling sense of bitter acceptance.
From the depths to the heights, and in the Sibelius symphony Søndergård created a monumental end to a glorious evening. Out of every rugged detail – not least the snarling woodwind definition – came an inevitability of purpose, and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east