United Kingdom Lammermuir Festival: Mozart, Stravinsky, Weber, MacMillan, Beethoven: The Stevenson Winds of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, John Cushing (clarinet and director). Dunbar Parish Church (Scotland). 21.09.2011 (LV)
Mozart (arr. Wendt): The Marriage of Figaro (selections)
Stravinsky: Three Pieces for solo clarinet
Weber: Adagio & Rondo
MacMillan: From Galloway
Mozart: Serenade in E flat K. 375
After a week of concerts in centuries-old mansions and churches, and even in the glorious reaches of an actual Concorde hangar (with an actual Concorde inside), Lammermuir Festival 2011 moved into a relatively routine Victorian church in the historic seaside town of Dunbar. It was a concert featuring some of Scotland’s brightest young wind players, inheritors of the tradition of greats like Sidney Sutcliffe, Douglas Boyd, Fergus McWilliam and Martin Gatt.
Led by John Cushing, longtime principal of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the young winds reached their musical climax with a brilliant performance of Mozart’s Serenade, K. 375 in which the players themselves fell under the music’s sensuous spell. When the French horn poured forth its last melancholy tune in the final movement, they had the audience under their spell as well.
The concert had begun with Mozart contemporary Johann Wendt’s amiable, pedestrian arrangement of seven numbers from The Marriage of Figaro, which the band and Cushing used to explore – and get comfortable with – the warm, strikingly detailed acoustics of the Church. After Cushing tootled his way charmingly through Stravinsky’s inconsequential (except to clarinetists) Three Pieces, the winds returned, this time without Cushing at the helm, and worked their way industriously through Weber’s little masterpiece, Adagio & Rondo.
To start the second half, Cushing played James Macmillan’s short, lyric From Galloway with a lovely sense of ineffable beauty. This effectively set up the concert’s two-part final denouement beginning with a students-only reading of the slight but even more ineffably beautiful Rondino – seven minutes of early romantic Beethoven.