September is a quiet month for classical music in Edinburgh, coming after the glut of the Festival. October, however, is a time of its reawakening, with the regular concerts of the RSNO on Fridays and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on Thursdays.
This opening concert certainly has a very full Usher Hall buzzing with anticipation, with long queues of people collecting and buying tickets just before the concert. The main reason for this is the presence of the international superstar pianist, Mitsuko Uchida, playing Mozart. We still remember and savour her solo performance at the Festival, were she played to a sold out Usher Hall.
The concert opens with an orchestra favourite, Berlioz, and his earliest work, the overture for his never completed opera Les francs-juges. Listening to its wonderful, fizzing colourful sound, it makes you think what a fun opera it would have been! Also, for older listeners, there is a very familiar passage that introduced the BBC programme, Face to Face. This is the last year for the SCO’s principal conductor, Robin Ticciati, who is back to his best after a period of illness, and his graceful and expressive conducting as demonstrated here, will be much missed when he goes off to Berlin and Glyndebourne.
However, there is no doubt the star of the evening is Uchida. She is one of the leading interpreters of Mozart, and tonight she shows why, floating across the keys like a butterfly in Mozart’s Concerto No. 27: she makes piano playing look effortless. Her playing is perfectly complemented by the SCO, and Ticciati seems in perfect harmony with Uchida. It is a triumph in every way, and receives a very warm response from the Usher Hall audience.
The concert concludes with a lively performance of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, a familiar but always delightful work to hear. The SCO are on the stage in big numbers, and certainly fill the Usher Hall with Dvořák’s wonderful melodies.
So another classical season has begun in Edinburgh, and it certainly opens with a bang with this concert. It reassures us that there is life after the Festival, and that there are many exciting concerts and operas to come.