Monday, 19 March 2012

Sally Beamish premiere, SCO

On Saturday, Edinburgh saw the UK premiere of Sally Beamish's percussion concerto performed at the Queen's Hall by Colin Currie with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, who are a co-commissioner of the work. Appropriately for the season of Lent, it was a meditation on the theme of the Seven Deadly Sins, taking the form of a series of 'dances' in different styles. These with their contrasting styles showcase effectively the wide range of percussion instruments deftly and energetically used by the soloist. Some humorous touches feature, such as the use of bottle chimes in 'Gluttony'. A tango used in 'Envy', the second of the seven dance sections, is particularly enjoyable.

These dance sequences are briefly preceded by an opening section featuring flute along with the percussion soloist, the music from this opening returns briefly to be re-stated in a closing section, described as being as if a sleeper awakes from a dream, the dream being the central series of dances. The flute has a demanding part at several points and Fiona Paterson is to be commended for her performance of this. Woodwind is generally emphasised in the scoring, the clarinet also being featured effectively in the passage for 'Pride', subtitled 'Cadenza No 5'. Ms Beamish honoured the audience with a personal appearance and her work received a standing ovation.

The second half of the evening saw an able performance of Beethoven's 7th symphony, a work which conductor Joseph Swensen has made an especial study of. Swensen is a former Principal Conductor of the SCO and it was interesting to compare their sound under his baton with that of his successor, Robin Ticciati. Although Ticciati is taking on new commitments as Music Director at Glyndebourne, he will be remaining Principal Conductor of the SCO until at least 2015. Not only areb there opportunities to hear their very successful collaboration during this year's Edinburgh  International Festival but we are told they will be making several further performances together in the 2012/13 concert seas, details of which will be announced very shortly

SCO's Beethoven performances continue this Thursday (22nd March) with the Fifth (under Ticciati) and on April 21st with the Eighth (under Oliver Knussen, who also conducts his own Two Organa and a new work). Both concerts are to be given in Edinburgh and in Glasgow, on consecutive days.

by Julie Williams
Photo : Ashley Coombes

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