Music review: Scottish Ensemble: Impulse, RSNO New Auditorium, Glasgow

Choreographed by Örjan Andersson, this evening of music and movement from the Scottish Ensemble was step and note-perfect, writes Kelly Apter

When we think of a choreographer at work, we picture them shaping leaps and twirls, or knitting synchronised steps together. Yet often, the space surrounding that movement is just as important. Or the moments of connection between performer and audience, the way lighting picks out a face, and the intricate symmetry that comes from placing a body in just the right position on stage. None of which is limited purely to dance, so it comes as no surprise to find that choreographer Örjan Andersson has worked a similar magic with an orchestra.

This isn’t the first time Scottish Ensemble has collaborated with Andersson (his company, Andersson Dance performed the Goldberg Variations with them), but it’s their first attempt at moving on their own, with no dancers beside them.

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Wisely, Andersson never takes the musicians beyond their competency, focusing on grouping them together or walking around in circles, rather than tricky choreography.

As a result, their execution is step and note-perfect, the need to memorise the pieces by heart (no time for sheet music when you’re on the move) adding to the intensity of their playing. Eventhe cellists and bass players take their instruments for a walk.

Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony is already a work of raw emotion, and seeing it embodied so fully takes us straight to the heart of the composer’s angst. The drama of the second movement in particular is lit to perfection, as the 21 musicians huddle together, single out a lone wolf, or lock eyes powerfully with the audience.

Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings is a love letter to Mozart, and here it feels like a similar missive to the glory of music and movement coming together.

The sheer pleasure written on the faces of the players is infectious, sweeping us up in the waltz-like movement of the Finale.