I YIELD to no-one in my admiration of the youngsters in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's symphony orchestra.
In recent years they have produced, with a top conductor in front of them, extraordinary performances from Mahler to Shostakovich, from Stravinsky to Respighi, and points in between. They are fabulous young musicians, totally energetic and hormonally rampant with their music-making. But they have to have the right man in front of them on the night to gather and unleash their force.
And, with all respect to these young musicians, who played to the hilt on Friday night, their performances, cumulatively, were no more than acceptable. Conductor Christopher Adey has a grand reputation as an orchestra trainer, and is much respected for his work with young musicians. But his four-square, routine and, above all, un-supple performances of Stravinsky's Jeu De Cartes, Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier Suite, which was way too inflexible, lacking panache, and Brahms's great Third Symphony, which was hidebound, suggested someone imposing a conducting and interpretative template, rather than someone who knew when to get out of the way, let them play, and shape it while it is happening.
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I began to suspect a sense of frustration from within the band, who were watching each other like hawks. (Tell me if I'm wrong, and it was all just wonderful.) Does it matter? It damn well does. These are the best young orchestral musicians in Scotland, light years ahead of NYOS, in which some of them will play. They require and deserve the best in front of them. So find them the best. This undersold them a bit.