“This concert ranges widely” went the SCO’s own description of its concert. With music from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries taking in all the big musical styles, plus a couple of complementary Czech works thrown in, that felt like rather an understatement. There was a risk, in fact, that the evening might have ended up more like the first part of its “Chaos and Creation” title than the second.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Robin Ticciati ****
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
It was indeed risky, unconventional programming, but it paid off magnificently, not only allowing the SCO players and conductor Robin Ticciati to show their exceptional mettle across a number of incarnations – from exuberant, full-blown period band, complete with a rippling continuo trio of harpsichord, theorbo and guitar, to rich, luscious, late-Romantic ensemble – but also setting themes and ideas skittering between the various contrasting pieces.
Ticciati ended up jiving arm-in-arm with his players in a wonderfully spirited account of Rebel’s Les élémens, a flamboyant pictorial evocation of the creation from the high Baroque, complete with chaotic dissonances and chirruping birdsong. Its Biblical subtext was echoed in Dvořák’s Biblical Songs, given a restrained but beautiflly nuanced reading by Karen Cargill, captivating and full of simmering power.
Dvořák’s Czech counterpart was Martinů, whose rarely heard Rhapsody-Concerto got a strongly defined, nimble account from SCO principal viola Jane Atkins, from bucolic idyll through to restless questing, and Ticciati closed with a punchy, sparkling Haydn “Miracle” Symphony. It was an evening of contrasts and connections, full of supple, thoughtful, invigorating music making.