Music review: Maxim Emelyanychev and SCO principles, Queen's Hall

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 Emilyanychev and SCO Principals, Queens Hall
Maxim Emilyanychev and SCO Principals, Queens Hall

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.

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    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.