Music review: The RSNO & Elim Chan

Elim Chan
Elim Chan
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This concert was designed to celebrate Neemi Järvi‘s 80th birthday ­but both the conductor laureate and pianist Ingrid Fliter were indisposed necessitating a replacement line-up and programme changes.

The RSNO & Elim Chan ****

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Who would have thought conductor Elim Chan would be back so soon after her impressive RSNO debut a fortnight ago and clearly the energy between the two parties is still highly charged. Chan nurtured the orchestral sound in Tchaikovsky’s Overture – Fantasy Romeo and Juliet, arms curved as if cradling the music. She slowly built up the intrigue and tension until the love theme beautifully unfolds on the cor anglais.

Louis Schwizgebel was a fine replacement for Fliter in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major. There was plenty of character and wit in his sparkling interpretation especially in the allegro’s jazz-like cadenza and the rondo’s dance-like rhythms. Schwizbegel is an engaging performer, his relaxed approach belies an impressive technique and crisp attention to detail, which the orchestra at times failed to match. The audience was beguiled by his encore, Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s Ständchen, Leise Flehen meine Lieder.

Rachmaninov’s Symphony No2 in E minor might run to an hour, but Chan’s mastery of the architecture made for a gripping account. The ebbs and flows of the first movement set the scene for the galloping allegro while the slow movement, one of the most romantic in the repertoire, featured the expressive clarinet melody soaring over sumptuous strings before the brass came out to play, to dazzling effect, to close the finale.