EIF 21: Exhilaration and Darkness from Scottish Chamber Orchestra

02/09/2012







 Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich: Alina Pogostkina (violin), Anja Kampe (soprano), Willard White (bass-baritone), Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Robin Ticciati (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 31.8.2012 (SRT)

Mahler (arr. Britten): What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 14

Alina Pogostkina, Photo by Felix Broede

Benjamin Britten was one of the first British composers to really appreciate the music of Mahler, and he made this chamber arrangement of the Third Symphony’s second movement in 1941. When it was first performed in Britain in 1942, it was the first part of the symphony to be heard in this country. It’s effectively a reduction, as the instrumentation is all but identical. The string sound is a little thinner, of course, but it’s still characterful, and this arrangement gave the SCO a chance to show their mettle in the work of a composer whose music they seldom get to touch.

More players were on the stage for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, and the eye-catching Alina Pogostkina struck sparks off them throughout. The young Russian played with beautiful, Romantic legato, especially soulful in the lower registers of the instrument, and the molto espressivo theme of the first movement really sang. Ticciati also drew an extraordinarily lush, muscular sound from the orchestra. They produced a wonderfully exciting coda to the first movement, but provided an equally sensitive underbed of sound for the soulful Canzonetta. Pogostkina had a way with the finale’s main theme that was playful as well as virtuosic, and the orchestra responded in kind. The final pages became an exhilarating thrill ride that was always musical and never approached vulgarity.

Shostakovich’s Fourteenth Symphony is surely one of the strongest candidates to be regarded as his darkest work, and that’s a very crowded field! It’s a work where the composer looks deep into the abyss of death and finds no consolation – not even grim acceptance – and it needs two singers who are prepared to look in the same direction in an unflinching manner. Willard White still commands authority with his singing, and the hint of gravel that has entered his voice was used effectively to convey the seemingly bottomless pain of the poems. Anja Kampe likewise sang with thrilling clarity, electrifying every aspect of the verse but doing so in a way that came face to face with the darkness of the subject matter. The much smaller sized orchestra were on their finest form, the virtuoso turns thrilling in their transparency, and Ticciati conducted the whole work like a slowly unravelling psycho-drama. The audience greeted the final chord with a long, grim silence, perhaps the most appropriate response for a work like this performed with such bleak honesty.

The Edinburgh International Festival runs until Sunday 2nd September at a range of venues across the city.

Simon Thompson

Print Friendly

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H