The Scotsman Sessions #233: Scott Dickinson and Susan Frank

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Scott Dickinson and Susan Frank perform From My Heart, by Paul Coletti

You’d expect professional life for a frontline collaborative musician like Scott Dickinson to have been an unnaturally isolated experience over the past year. But the Glasgow-born principal viola of the BBC SSO, and prolific chamber musician, is thankful that his flautist wife, Susan Frank, is equally adept as a pianist. “We’ve been exploring music together at home that we’d never usually have time to play,” he says. “It’s been such an interesting journey.”

Many of their discoveries featured online at the height of the lockdown, but not the piece chosen here for the pair’s Scotsman Session: From My Heart, written by fellow violist Paul Coletti. “It has everything from lush Rachmaninov to moody Debussy,” Dickinson explains, and the performance, recorded in Glasgow’s City Halls Recital Room, captures all that and more.

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Who is Coletti? He’s actually from Edinburgh, now 62, and a professor of viola and chamber music at UCLA. He studied at the RSAMD (now RCS) before making it big in America as a performer, teacher and composer. He famously produced a music video featuring electric viola with Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

Scott Dickinson and Susan Frank

“Paul played the Walton Viola Concerto in 1987 when I was in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland,” Dickinson recalls, having also heard Coletti perform at the Edinburgh Festival. “Both were formative experiences.”

Dickinson also found the lyrical eloquence of From My Heart to be the perfect counterweight to music he’s currently recording for the Hebrides Ensemble’s Inner Hebrides project, due for release in June. It features a series of solo viola pieces by modern composers from Britten to Beamish, recorded at the Whitelee Windfarm near his home in Eaglesham.

“Each piece is wilder and faster than the previous one,” he explains. The Coletti, on the other hand, is a wistful breath of fresh air.

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