A sensational performance of a fascinating programme made for an unforgettable festival debut from the Los Angeles-based Colburn Orchestra.
Colburn Orchestra, Usher Hall (*****)
Well-drilled by conductor Stéphane Denève, these young players showed off their considerable talents in Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx. At the heart of this impressionistic soundworld was a brilliant string sound, which together with the celeste, brass and percussion, ebbed around the virtuosic clarinet passages.
In Barber’s Violin Concerto there was precision and focus in spades as Denève encouraged a lively and perfectly balanced dialogue between the orchestra and soloist Simone Porter, a student at the Colburn conservatoire. The strings were lush and the woodwind solos crisp and full of character, echoing Porter’s beautiful tonal warmth and lyricism. And the orchestra never dropped a note or missed a beat in the breathtaking non-stop finale.
Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances is one of the last things he wrote, and the Colburn Orchestra made this action-packed work their own. There was much to enjoy from the strings bouncing in their seats as they accented the off-beat Slavic rhythms, to the waltzing trumpets in the enigmatic slow movement and the spectrum of thrilling dynamics that maintained momentum to the last chord.