Music review: Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, Princes Street Gardens

On what turned out to be a clear night, the 70th Edinburgh International Festival came to a finale that resounded like none that had gone before it. A panoply of sparkling, fizzing colour that burst into the sky with an artistry which would have been astounding on its own was all the more impressive for how it co-ordinated with the music.

Virgin Money Festival Fireworks PIC: Ian Georgeson Photography
Virgin Money Festival Fireworks PIC: Ian Georgeson Photography

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert *****

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Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Large screens placed to each side of the Ross Bandstand stage showed the Scottish Chamber Orchestra players in close-up shots, and their skilled dedication to this annual event was abundantly evident from an unflinching focus on the music. The sounds of ceilidhs evoked a sense of place, both in James MacMillan’s Stomp - a collision of Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Scotland - and in Peter Maxwell Davies’ affectionately witty portrait of An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise - and at times the fireworks exploding above were almost like an extra percussion section.

Following an experimental new format, the first section was without fireworks and featured the touching voice of traditional singer Karen Matheson. Conductor Clark Rundell also led the orchestra through the changing moods of dances from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Beauty. The spectacle above was unquestionably beautiful, but there was little chance of sleep.