Scottish Chamber Orchestra

City Halls, Glasgow

Keith Bruce

five stars

IT has become a commonplace now that principal conductor Robin Ticciati extends the repertoire of the SCO into realms previously the sphere of the symphony orchestra, but this programme was all that from start to finish. And what a finish. The performance of Beethoven's Seventh that brought the concert and the SCO's City Hall season to a close was revelatory, to employ another over-worked term. The conductor's vision of the piece was compellingly fresh, with bold use of silence in the run up to the main theme, and an original vision of both the dynamics and the rhythms of the work that made it breath anew. If the sound of Alec Frank-Gemmill's horn section was particularly fine, that implies no lower standard across the band, all the way to the pin-sharp precision of Matthew Hardy's tympani.

That musician was the focus of much of the opening Con Brio by Jorg Widman, the Scottish premiere of a revised scoring of the concert overture with the kettle drums a frequent soloist, and Hardy given a rare opportunity to hit a full set of modern instruments. Unsurprisingly, however, as Widman is himself a clarinettist, the writing for the winds is also very adventurous, the players required to produce a range on unconventional sounds from their instruments. For all that, it is chiefly a work of exceptional orchestration, which, like the Beethoven, used all the resources of the SCO to the full.

In the context of which, the Brahms Double Concerto, with Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff, might have offered the only respite in an exciting evening. But the fascinating integration of the violin and cello soloists with the strings in particular, led once again by Alexander Janiczek, made anything less than fully attentive listening quite impossible.