Maria João Pires, the great Portuguese pianist, has been a regular visitor to the Edinburgh International Festival over the years, and it is a great pleasure to hear her again tonight in the Usher Hall. She is now 72, but still playing beautifully, with great delicacy and colour, and without a note of music in front of her.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra are also in fine form under their chief conductor Robin Ticciati, who seems in robust health after his recent illness. They begin the concert with the first five of Dvořàk’s Legends, a series of ten, rather jolly, orchestral lollipops that show off his use of Czech folk melodies. The second five introduce the second part of the concert after the interval.
However, the main events are Mozart piano concertos: No. 23 before the interval, and after the interval his final concerto, No. 27, written in the year of his death. Both of these concertos are relatively simple, comprising only three movements each. Of course we recognise the melodies of both these well-known concertos, but under the magic fingers of Pires, they sounded fresh and colourful. She is also very much in tune with both the SCO and Robin Ticciati, with little nods and smiles ensuring perfect harmony between pianist and orchestra.
The well-filled Usher Hall gives a warm reception at the end of the concert, and it is hoped that Pires will visit again soon: it was pianistic perfection.