Classical review: London Concertante, Edinburgh

London Concertante
London Concertante
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Edinburgh’s second group of musical visitors from London this week, the London Concertante, were not quite the draw at the Queen’s Hall on Saturday evening as the London Symphony Orchestra was at the Usher Hall on Wednesday.

London Concertante - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

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Be that as it may, their programme was an attractive one of mainly Bach concertos with Albinoni, Mozart and, less fittingly, Piazzolla for company.

With guest director Remus Azoitei as frontman in the A minor and E major violin concertos, the sound of just five strings plus harpsichord behind him was satisfyingly fulsome. But somehow together they didn’t do Bach justice. Both concertos would have benefitted from the sort of characterisation and much tidier poise found in the same composer’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin, with the wonderfully expressive Steven Hudson, principal oboe of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, partnered with the lyrical Fenella Humphreys.

Bringing the second half alive with a previously elusive flow, ensemble and soloists gelled with newfound energy. The middle slow movement is probably verging on chocolate-boxy but is no less gorgeous for that. The combination of oboe and violin accompanied by harpsichord and pizzicato strings was magical, especially as Hudson rolled out what seemed like longer and longer phrases without apparently drawing breath.

Slipping in Piazzolla’s slow tango, Oblivion, was odd, especially as it wasn’t part of the printed, and presumably planned, programme, but it showed the versatility of this chamber ensemble who, although hitherto unfamiliar to Scottish audiences were well received and no doubt will be welcome back.

Seen on 07.06.14