Music review: The SCO & Laurence Equilbey, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Laurence Equilbey PIC: Jo�l Saget / AFP /Getty Images
Laurence Equilbey PIC: Jo�l Saget / AFP /Getty Images
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THERE were magic moments aplenty in the SCO’s Mendelssohn double-bill, but these were all too fleeting in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was an interesting exercise to combine the Overture with the Incidental Music, written 17 years later and not often heard in concert, but it did mean a lot of material was repeated.

SCO & Laurence Equilbey, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

The strings were light as fairy dust in the scherzo and the brass flourishes dominated the Wedding March but the overall performance was uneven, lacking verve and a sense of direction. Conductor Laurence Equilbey kept a steady pace throughout but her confusing, overly fluid beat caused some timing mishaps. For instance, the four breathy woodwind chords that punctuate the piece were never quite together. The most enchanting sections of this dream were those sung with precision and crispness by soprano Rowan Pierce, mezzo soprano Jessica Gillingwater and the women from the SCO Chorus as the mischievous spell-casting elves.

Equilbey, the orchestra, full chorus and a solid line up of soloists, brilliantly played out the dramatic events of the first Walpurgis Night in Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht. The cantata, set to Goethe’s ballad, featured Martin Mitterrutzner (the Druid) with his emotive tenor voice, Huw Montague Rendall’s (the Priest) robust baritone and Hilary Summers’ warm and expansive contralto added gravitas to the Old Woman. But it was the pitchfork waving chorus scaring off the Christians that had the best lines, which they sung with relish. - Susan Nickalls