What’s the difference between a chamber orchestra and a symphony orchestra? This was a question posed by many people attending the SCO’s performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. With the brass bulked up to meet the requirements of the score, the SCO looked and sounded pretty much like a symphony orchestra. So why venture into this repertoire?
Scottish Chamber Orchestra ****
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Principal conductor Robin Ticciati’s quest to present well-known classics afresh certainly offers much musical food for thought. In this 1880 version of the symphony – Bruckner constantly revised the work and there are seven versions – the main difference is the slightly smaller string section. Certainly the impressively valveless brass dominate the work and their contributions – especially the horns with their hunting calls – were superb. There might have been moments in the andante where the sting textures were a bit thin but on the whole Ticciati balanced his forces admirably. This lightness of touch enhanced the lyricism and certainly held the interest throughout this 70-minute work.
It was preceded by a ravishing account of Strauss’ Oboe Concerto from soloist Ramón Ortega Quero. Quite apart from his mellifluous sound, in the first movement he appeared to hardly draw breath as he beautifully articulated the fluid melodic phrases whilst the virtuosic cadenza gave Quero the opportunity to show off his flawless technique. There was much to enjoy, especially the delightful interplay between the oboe and the viola, and then the clarinets and bassoons in the adagio.