This performance of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony had all the grace, refinement and subtle daring we've come to expect from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and their principal conductor Robin Ticciati.
Together they continue to hone an economy of means and an intimacy of expression that demands really close listening – this is playing that draws you in through whispers rather than shouts.
And it made the Pastoral sound totally fresh and unforced. Ticciati's pacing was natural from first note to last: the first movements brimmed with sunny, lilting lyricism; the peasant dance was thick-set and playful; the storm was briskly volatile but never aggressive. His nuances were acutely felt and beautifully delivered by the orchestra. Their string sound – husky breadth below, silvery first violins floating above – sounded more clearly textured and finely balanced than ever. There was radiant playing from flutist Alison Mitchell and clarinettist Maximiliano Martin, and superb control from the natural brass.
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I always admire the emotional conviction of Ticciati's musical choices, even if the results don't always sound like a completely finished product. His take on Wagner's Siegfried Idyll didn't quite hang together, for example. Wagner wrote the piece as a birthday present for his wife Cosima and it's a touchingly gentle, unadorned offering. Ticciati's use of timbre and dynamics captured this domestic-scale tenderness, but he laboured the corners too much and lost track of the underlying simplicity.
Portuguese pianist Maria Joao Pires was an ideal match for the orchestra in Mozart's Piano Concerto in G, K 453, adding shapely phrasing, understated virtuosity and a warm, singing touch.