Classical review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Stirling

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WHAT an interesting night. The chance to hear a young, upcoming conductor – the Hungarian, Gergely Madaras take a chance or two with Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and make a significant impact in doing so.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Stirling Castle

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This was the second half of a Summer Nights programme the SCO presented last night in Stirling, and which they will repeat tonight in Strathpeffer, and Friday in Dundee.

The Grand Hall at Stirling Castle did not provide the ideal venue – its intermittent blower mechanism sounding like a ghostly snare drum roll – but never so much as to ruin the musical integrity of the performances.

Madaras’s Eroica was brisk and clearly defined, if uncomfortably rushed at the start.

But once it settled, the sharp definition of his approach took hold, and the first three movements swept forward with spirit and zeal.

The eccentricities of the finale – bare-knuckle textures and clarinet bells held up like fanfare trumpets – flew close to the wind, but won out in the end.

The first half was a lighter complement, a combination of Leo Weiner’s Divertimento No 1 – a suite of Hungarian folk-style dances that, for all their literal adaptation, never quite bears the charisma of a Bartok – and Ibert’s flighty Flute Concerto.

SCO flautist Alison Mitchell was in exuberant form as soloist in the Ibert, capturing the fitful effervescence of the opening Allegro, and the melancholic stillness of the Andante with equal conviction. The virtuosity of the finale was the icing on the cake.