With more than 100 pairs of bright red trousers on stage, the National Youth Orchestra of the USA was a sight to behold at the Usher Hall on Friday evening.
National Youth Orchestra of USA * * * * *
Their uniform presentation, however, was not limited to sartorial appearance.
This is an orchestra whose sound is tight, exacting and shaped with the finest precision by conductor Sir Antonio Pappano without losing a moment of vibrant spirit. Ranging in age from 16 to 19, the players also bring a poised sheen to their sound, heard with brilliant effect in their subtle and perfectly balanced orchestral accompaniment to American mezzo Joyce DiDinato in Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été.
Every intimate nuance of Gautier’s somewhat mournful love poems was spun out with exquisite control from DiDinato, the final line of The Ghost of the Rose capturing a magical hush across the auditorium. Prokofiev’s Symphony No 5 heard the orchestra wield considerable muscle in the gleaming power of its first movement Andante, with Pappano pacing the score’s growing intensity through to an exhilarating finale. With skilfully reflective and sensitive scoring, 18-year-old apprentice composer Tyson J Davis’s tribute to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall delivered a strong start to the programme.