SCO & Hugo Ticciati, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh ****
It was inevitable, probably, that it would feel like something was missing. With violinist Pekka Kuusisto indisposed following a family bereavement, and the whole of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Sunday afternoon chamber offering carefully structured around his wide-ranging skills and equally far-reaching musical friendships, it was as though the concert’s lynchpin had melted away. So it was testament to the commitment and vivid playing of the SCO musicians – and to the brilliant contributions of visiting soloist Hugo Ticciati – that the eclectic concert held together firmly, and took on a renewed sense of purpose in our current tragic times.
It was Ticciati (if the name’s familiar, he’s the elder brother of the SCO’s former principal conductor Robin) who dedicated the moving miniature violin duo Aldo by Luciano Berio to the victims of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, and his account with the SCO’s Cecilia Ziano was so restrained and reverent that it virtually amounted to a silent reflection. It cast a poignant shadow, too, across the fragile figurations of Caroline Shaw’s lyrical Entr’acte that followed, given a heartfelt, nuanced account by four SCO string players, one that seemed perpetually teetering on the point of collapse, only to re-establish itself with renewed vigour.
The same foursome had earlier summoned fearsome energy for a breathtakingly intense account of Bryce Dessner’s furiously aggressive quartet Aheym, and Ticciati joined SCO principal cellist for an equally blistering Double Trouble by young Finn Sauli Zinovjev. Though never conceived with that in mind, the collision of fury and introspection seemed an ideal musical counterpoint to current events, though the concert was bookended by music of clarity and restraint.
SCO principal clarinettist Maximiliano Martín was nimble and wonderfully characterful in Nico Muhly’s It Goes Without Saying and Steve Reich’s minimalist classic New York Counterpoint, though juxtaposing the two laid bare Muhly’s musical borrowings from his elder colleague.
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