Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh ****
Music from Rameau’s Les Boréades made a bracing opener – a blast of the high Baroque amid an otherwise Classical programme – and Cummings indulged us with a flamboyant, tongue-in-cheek commentary usefully placing the music in the opera’s convoluted storyline. His Mozart Paris Symphony was a delight, full of gesture and rhetoric – seldom can its first movement’s rushing scales have had so much sheer meaning – but superbly balanced in a buoyant slow movement.
It was a shame, then, that things went slightly off the boil after the interval. A Sinfonia concertante in E flat by JC Bach was worth an outing for its unusual use of no less than six woodwind soloists – giving the SCO’s famously fantastic wind players a welcome chance to shine – but it had less going for it musically. Cummings’s closer – Haydn’s Oxford Symphony, originally written for a Parisian audience – returned to his opening vigour.
It was a beguiling evening, shining new light on the a couple of decades, and under Cummings’s inspirational direction, as illuminating as it was entertaining