As part of a series of events to celebrate 850 years since the founding of Paisley Abbey, this concert by The Orchestra of Scottish Opera was a fitting musical tribute to a magnificent venue.
The programme had been constructed intelligently, showcasing exactly the kind of full-bodied Romantic repertoire that would flourish in the abbey's luxuriant acoustic. Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture was an excellent choice as opener, its familiar swirling themes perfectly suited to the resonant environment. It was followed by Respighi's Trittico Botticelliano, which featured the same beautifully homogenous sound, whether in the shimmering strings of La Primavera or the seamlessly dovetailed section work of L'adoriazione dei Magi and La nascita di Venere. In both of these opening pieces it was the remarkable cohesion of the ensemble that was particularly impressive, in no small part thanks to the unwavering zeal of conductor Francesco Corti, who managed to sustain a high level of energy while maintaining admirable rhythmic tightness and dynamic restraint.
It was when we came to Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor that the full, glorious power of the orchestra was unleashed. In a night full of wonderful melodies this work had the most joyous and liberated. Franck, who was criticised for his symphony's lack of traditional structure, and asked whether there was any poetic motivation behind it, simply replied: "It is just music, nothing but pure music". Pure music was what The Orchestra of Scottish Opera had given us throughout their performance – to thrilling effect.