Perth Concert Hall

Keith Bruce

five stars

ALTHOUGH every music-lover is longing for the day when audiences and performers can once again share acoustic spaces as fine as Perth’s Concert Hall, for as long as the health emergency persists we must be content, and grateful, for the opportunity to enjoy bespoke online concerts as beautifully realised as this one.

Performing just a single work that was scheduled to feature in its season-opening concerts in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, was joined by Scotland’s global violin star Nicola Benedetti for one of the most popular, and regularly performed, pieces in the repertoire, Max Bruch’s Concerto No.1.

With the players distanced as per regulations, the small orchestra filled the lovely auditorium, the empty public seats rarely visible in the cleverly-chosen camera angles. With the exuberant young Russian conductor on the same level as the musicians, and even straying occasionally in front of his own music stand, there was an intimacy to the performance that came with a beautifully spacious sound in which individuals were as distinct as the ensemble and soloist was balanced.

While Benedetti has played the work countless times, the Bruch is hardly Emelyanychev’s regular beat, and the result was a delightfully fresh re-vivifying of an old war-horse, which flowed seamlessly through its sections, the precision of Benedetti’s playing in the slow movement followed immediately by a brilliant rhythmic coherence with the orchestra at the start of the finale.

This concert was no marking-time exercise, in response to the challenges everyone is facing. Once again the SCO showed that the widest repertoire is open to skilful re-invention, Emelyanychev proved that his appetite for dynamic music-making is captivating to witness, and Benedetti that she brings a commitment and meticulous attention to detail to everything she undertakes.

Sponsored by Quilter Cheviot. Available to watch for three months on the SCO’s YouTube and Facebook pages.