His body language is a sequence of dance moves that connect directly with the players, and the results were spontaneous and vital.
Harrold’s To the Light – a brand new SCO commission – opened the programme. A soft and sumptuous signature trio of chords pave the way for a charm-filled solo cello melody, both of which are the glue holding together this various diversions the happen en route.
Harrold’s writing is precise and clean-textured, yet he imbues the work with a dazzling warmth and emotive density. This motivated performance did it justice.
MacMillan’s 1996 work, Í: A Meditation on Iona, reflects on the island associated with St Columba, its plainsong-derived motifs illuminated by timbres that combine thickly-scored strings with pungent metallic percussion. The outcome is riveting, beautiful and spiritually evocative, thanks to another mood-invoking performance.
In both Beethoven symphonies – Nos 1 & 2 – Swensen’s attention to detail was matched by his unstoppable enthusiasm, giving these works a thoroughly fresh airing, yet remaining true to the spirit of the age; like giving Beethoven a spring clean.