Review: Scottish Ensemble/Lawrence Power - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Have your say

IT WASN’T until later in life that Haydn decided to call his Symphony No. 44 Trauer, meaning “mourning”.

Which tells us something about his attitude towards bereavement, because there isn’t a hint of melancholy about this glorious piece, especially not when it’s being performed by the Scottish Ensemble, known for its animated style.

Even the section Haydn chose to have played at his own funeral was full of life, and lead violinist Jonathan Morton virtually danced to the conclusion.

After such a beauteous start, Luke Bedford’s newly commissioned Wonderful Two-Headed Nightingale won’t have pleased every ear in the room, but to mine it was intriguing from the first note.

Offering no comfort, it made me sit up in my chair and listen, as Morton and guest violist Lawrence Power battled with each other, then came together in harmony, just as the conjoined twins who inspired the piece must have done.

William Alwyn may not be in as many programmes as his 20th-century peers, but his Pastoral Fantasia, composed in 1939 when Britain was on the brink of war, had a familiar charm. A nostalgic look at how things used to be, it gave Power a real chance to shine.

So too Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, which once again brought Power and Morton head to head.

The sensitive handling of the second movement, written shortly after the death of Mozart’s mother, proved how easily the Scottish Ensemble steps from rough to smooth.

Rating: ****