Music review: The SCO and Nicola Benedetti
SCO and Nicola Benedetti ***
City Halls, Glasgow
This was no attempt to stamp artificial, force-fed individuality. There’s no need really, when you possess, like Benedetti, a quality and quantity of tone that gave natural radiance to each note, that shaped long, lyrical paragraphs with a profound eloquence.
In the quiescent slow movement, an easeful, silken stream of melody issued from her golden-voiced Stradivarius. The finale bore a scintillating sense of the inevitable, lithe, logical and crisp.
So why, under Joseph Swensen, did it all seem such hard work for the orchestra? Even Benedetti appeared slightly pressurised in the opening movement, which Swensen painted as raw and rugged. It didn’t help that the natural horns periodically fluffed, that the trumpets jabbed at one particular repeated note pattern with irritating persistence, or that Swensen’s connection with the music seemed occasionally fretful.
Where the orchestra was the only vehicle to manoeuvre – in Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No 1 (like Berlioz ahead of his time) and the Symphony No 4 (brazen and thrustful) – the results were more collective, cohesive and responsive.