Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Un:Titled 2024 Edinburgh review – ‘The stylish mix of blues and jazz was captivating’

The world premiere of Daniel Abrahams’s captivating composition Hope in the Dark was a highlight of this evening of new music, writes Susan Nickalls

Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Un:Titled 2024, Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh ***

Soundbox Live was a wonderful opportunity to hear world premieres by three composers at the beginning of their careers. The works were developed over the course of a year under the SCO’s Un:Titled programme with mentor Jay Capperauld, the orchestra’s associate composer, and performed by an ensemble of nine SCO musicians.

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In She breathes, she becomes, Emily Scott-Moncrieff teased apart the different layers of the life cycle of a flower in an optimistic swirl of colourful sounds underpinned by a catchy tango beat.

Daniel AbrahamsDaniel Abrahams
Daniel Abrahams

Adding electronics and vocal effects to the line-up, composer Naafi joined the ensemble to perform the meandering and meditative Joyride in your Aura.

But it was Daniel Abrahams’s Hope in the Dark that really stood out with its focused structure and confident writing, especially for Maximiliano Martin (clarinet), Cerys Ambrose-Evans (bassoon) and Jamie Kenny (double bass). The stylish mix of blues and jazz with a nod to Scottish folk music in a beguiling violin solo from Kana Kawashima was captivating.

The programme kicked off with Martin and Eric de Wit (cello) delivering Guillaume Connesson’s pacey modern take on Bach rhythms in Disco Toccata with panache. This was followed by Capperauld’s The Pathos of Broken Things for solo flute. The haunting elements of the piece were beautifully captured by Marta Gómez with a luminosity that floated in the former church’s voluminous acoustic.

To close, John’s book of alleged dances by John Adams for string quartet and recorded prepared piano saw Kawashima, Michelle Dierx (violin), Zoe Matthews (viola) and de Wit give a spirited, if somewhat under-rehearsed, reading of these high-energy minimalist movements.

Wrapping all of this up in a suitably moody atmosphere was DJ Dolphin Boy, whose eclectic mixes were woven between the different works and came before and after the main programme.

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