The Scottish Chamber Orchestra respond well to the loss of Emmanuel Krivine, the distinguished conductor who had to cancel due to illness. He was replaced by the young American conductor Case Scaglione, a rising star in the USA. He seems perfectly in harmony with the SCO, and it’s clear that they are in tune with him.
The programme is a total delight from start to finish. It opens with the overture to Weber’s Der Freischütz, an opera that was a big hit during Beethoven’s time, but is rarely performed today. However, the overture is full of fire and melody, and is a great concert opener.
The concert continues with Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 3, played by distinguished American pianist and musicologist, Robert Levin, who has performed with eminent conductors around the world, and is noted for performing his own cadenzas to piano concertos. His reading of Beethoven’s third is magisterial, beginning with a silent accompaniment of the opening orchestral thread, leading to a colourful interpretation complete with his own delicate cadenzas.
The concert concludes with a sparkling performance of Beethoven’s most famous symphony, his fifth, which opens with those famous four notes. It is interesting to compare the SCO’s performance of the fifth, with the RSNO’s of the sixth last week. Of course, they are very different works, especially when the quiet melodies of the Pastoral are compared to the fiery conclusions of the fifth. The SCO, with smaller numbers than the RSNO, manage to make a really big impact in the larger space of the Usher Hall, compared to its normal, smaller Queen’s Hall environment.
It is expertly led by Scaglione, who conducts vigorously without music, bringing out every note of Beethoven’s revolutionary work. It is warmly received by the big Usher Hall audience, who go home happy that they have been to a perfect concert, in its choice and execution of its works.