Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Jon Savage
Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Jon Savage
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THIS was a disparate programme of pieces that individually also seemed at odds with themselves, apart from Haydn’s “Drum Roll” Symphony No 103 played with a stylish swagger by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to close the concert.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh


To start with, Liebeslied for Eight Instruments by composer and clarinettist Jorg Widmann was as far removed from the “love song” of the title as you could imagine. There was nothing tender about the stabs of high-pitched dissonance, the surges of thunderous sounds from the piano or the gusty effects from the woodwinds. The intention seemed to be to stretch the limits of the instruments – at one point the busy percussionist was compelled to use a cheese grater – but this 2010 work came across as extremely tired and dated.

Schumann’s 1853 Violin Concerto has had a troubled past, only receiving its first performance 70 years after it was written. It’s an erratic, tortured work that lurches from brilliance – where Schumann seems to be foreshadowing modernism in some passages in the first two movements – to the cloying pastiche of the finale.

However, soloist Christian Tetzlaff breathed new life into the work with an effervescent performance dominated by his formidable technique and iron-willed determination, and he enjoyed superb support from an on-form orchestra under Robin Ticciati’s assured baton. After such turbulence, Tetzlaff’s sublime rendition of Bach’s Sarabande from the Partita in D minor, which perfectly encapsulated form and beauty, was the evening’s highlight.

Seen on 18.12.14