Emmanuel Krivine and SCO Show Their Skill in Period Style

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Schumann: Bertrand Chamayou (piano), Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Emmanuel Krivine (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 22.11.2018. (SRT)

Emmanuel Krivine (c) Julien Becker

Mendelssohn – Overture, The Fair Melusine

Beethoven – Piano Concerto No.4

Schumann – Symphony No.4 (revised version)

2018-19 finds the Scottish Chamber Orchestra between principal conductors. Their former one, Robin Ticciati, left last summer, and their next one, Maxim Emelyanychev, joins them next September. So to avoid in-betweener syndrome, the orchestra has built their current season around a series of guest partnerships.

Emmanuel Krivine is a known quantity for them – he has been their Principal Guest Conductor since 2015 – so he’s a welcome hand on the tiller. His skill in period style came out in a variety of ways in this concert, with natural timps and brass in the first half making Mendelssohn’s Fair Melusine sound fresh and exciting, with clean, rippling winds and evanescent strings that acquired a hard edge during the minor key sections.

They switched to more modern brass for Schumann’s Fourth Symphony, and that helped draw the focus onto the way Krivine can use the orchestral sound to serve the structure of this most unitary of Romantic symphonies. The wiry string sound, for example, with minimal vibrato gave the music an edge of tension which allowed the first subject to bound its way out of the slow introduction, and that backdrop allowed the violin solo in the slow movement to sound almost dreamy. Against this, the brass choir created baleful fanfares in the development, with the first staccato hints of the finale emerging through that struggle. They then sounded even more momentous during the transition from the Scherzo, pregnant with excitement, leading into a lithe finale that, while perhaps not as pulse-quickening as Robin Ticciati’s (review click here), still sounded like the fulfilment of all that had gone before.

Betrand Chamayou is a featured artist for this season, too – he will return to play the Ravel concerto in April (click here) – and he brought smooth refinement to the slow movement of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto as he tamed the Furies of the strings. I found his first movement rather cursory, though, with a hard edge to the piano playing that sounded almost brittle at times. Likewise, Krivine directed the first movement with a fast flow and sound that was beautiful, if slightly homogenous. It wasn’t until the rollicking finale that the performance really found its vigour, the hard edged piano and bright orchestral sound finally meeting each other in the right way.

Simon Thompson

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