Music review: London Symphony Orchestra/ Simon Rattle, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

“Wow!” exclaimed one rather over-enthusiastic audience member into the silence following the first movement of John Adams’s Harmonielehre.

London Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle, Usher Hall
London Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle, Usher Hall

London Symphony Orchestra/ Simon Rattle, Usher Hall, Edinburgh * * * * *

It got a chuckle from around the Usher Hall, plus a surprised kiss blown from Simon Rattle on the conductor’s podium. And it was an understandable reaction to Rattle’s breathtakingly high-energy, monumental account of Adams’s minimalism-meets-late-Romantic almost-symphony, which the conductor drove ever onwards from its granitic opening chords with unstoppable propulsive rhythm and brilliant, almost garish colours, building to climaxes of ear-splitting energy. Rattle has been a champion of Adams since his days with the CBSO, and his utter conviction showed in this ferocious, lapel-grabbing account. The London Symphony Orchestra musicians gave their all – lustrous strings in the desolate slow movement were especially memorable – in a performance that conjured all the ecstatic euphoria that the work is capable of. It was startling, gripping and unforgettable.

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All of The Scotsman's 5-star reviews from the 2019 festivals

David Kettle