Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Edinburgh

Queen's Hall. Picture: Jon Savage
Queen's Hall. Picture: Jon Savage
Share this article
Have your say

WAR claims many victims and grief can reverberate through generations.

Queen’s Hall


To mark the 500th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles on UK soil, composer Sally Beamish explored the aftermath of war from the point of view of those who are left behind in the SCO commission, Flodden.

The tenor of this emotionally-charged 25-minute work was established with Shuna Scott Sendall’s high-pitched keening set against angelic-sounding bells. The soprano’s expressive interpretation of the texts by RS Craig, Jean Elliot and JB Selkirk was immensely affecting, while the sinewy textures of the sparse orchestral score added flesh and blood to this powerful, gut-wrenching new work.

Frank Bridge’s tone poem, Summer, provided one of the few glimpses of sunshine and carefree spirits in this programme, with the orchestra joyfully articulating the sumptuous score in all its technicolour glory.

Conductor Joseph Swensen joined the SCO on violin to play one of the 23 solo string parts in Richard Strauss’ brooding contemplation on the horrors of World War Two, Metamorphosen. The ensemble brilliantly captured the searing intensity of the work together with the constantly shifting dynamics and surging climaxes that drive it.

The concert opened with one of Britten’s final works, Suite on an English Folk Tunes: A Time There Was. These tightly orchestrated quirky movements, based on English folk songs or dances reveal a composer brimming with ideas to the last.