If this breezy and affable chamber concert, featuring the SCO’s new principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev on piano alongside a clutch of the orchestra’s principals, is reflective of what is to come under the Russian maestro’s leadership, then friendly times lie ahead.
Maxim Emelyanychev and SCO Principals, Queen’s Hall * * * *
It was a programme that started small.
Horn player Alec Frank-Gemmill joining Emelyanychev in Schumann’s short Adagio and Allegro and finding abundant charm in its contrasting moods – the brooding Adagio emphatically countered by the rip-snorting ebullience of the Allegro, in an otherwise fluid partnership, even if Emelyanychev missed the odd opportunity to take the melodic initiative.
Then there were three: cellist Philip Higham and clarinettist Maximiliano Martín now on stage for Brahms’ Trio in A minor. Here was a more equal-voiced performance, at its most charming and eloquent in the conversational ping-pong of the waltz-like intermezzo.
But it was in Dohnányi’s Sextet in C (now with violinist Benjamin Marquise-Gilmore and violist Fiona Winning) that sparks really flew, the intoxicating finale eschewing the post-Brahmsian platform of the earlier movements to revel in a dizzy syncopated world between jazz and palm court, and a mischievous false ending that caught the audience out.