Music review: The SCO and Richard Egarr

Richard Egarr breezes on stage like a man on a mission, turns to the SCO and fires up Beethoven's Coriolan Overture with no regard for lingering applause. The audience is caught on the hop; the musicians aren't. It's clear we're in for an explosive night.
Richard Egarr PIC: Marco BorggreveRichard Egarr PIC: Marco Borggreve
Richard Egarr PIC: Marco Borggreve

SCO ****

City Halls, Glasgow

We’ve come to expect this impulsive showmanship from Egarr. He favours the unpredictable, lives his music in the fast lane, puts panache on a level pegging with stylistic integrity. On Friday it worked a treat, give or take the very occasional miscommunication.

Following the Beethoven – a Coriolan that fearlessly eschewed pedantry and really tore into the inner conflict to present an utterly cleansed view of the music – it was all Mozart, firstly the Linz Symphony, in which Egarr unearthed similarly fresh perspectives with a performance, despite its unflinching sparkle and electricity, that never lacked grace or finesse.

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The outer movements bore a spine-chilling resonance, thanks to those sharply focused toppings of incendiary brass and timpani, while the inner movements – aside from the momentary indecision in Egarr’s upbeat to the Menuetto – threw up moments of true suppleness and poetry. The temperature remained insistently high for Mozart’s Magi Flute Overture, another sizzler.

Then the forces expanded to include the SCO Chorus and soloists in Mozart’s Coronation Mass. Unity of purpose persisted, the well-drilled choristers offering brilliance and precision, the solo quartet (Rowan Pierce, Daniela Lehner, James Gilchrist and Andrew Foster-Williams) neatly matched as a team, Egarr insisting it move like the clappers.

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