Review of Scottish Ensemble Concert
By Garry Fraser
"Thursday’s online concert was typical of the Ensemble, with brilliance of innovation matched with brilliance of performance."
The Scottish Ensemble opened this year’s Perth Festival of the Arts in their usual teasing way, dipping into uncharted territories and mixing the un-known with the well-known. Thursday’s online concert was typical of the Ensemble, with brilliance of innovation matched with brilliance of performance.
While the “main” work in the concert was Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, the other works were by no means throwaways. Brief they might have been, but their contrasts in style, mood and construction made for a mouth-watering combination. The brightness of a movement Bacewicz’s concerto for strings was countered by James MacMillan’s Memento in which the expression “hauntingly beautiful” falls perfectly into place.
Anna Meredith’s Variation on Tullochgorum jarred slightly, but any vaguely lingering unease was dispelled by a Dvorak waltz and a Schubert Minuet and Trio. Perhaps the most satisfying piece came from a surprising source, a movement from William Grant Still’s Danzas de Panama. A new one for me too, and a composer I will look forward to hearing again.
Add Summer from Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, and an amazing Intermezzo from Sjolin and you have a full package of marvellous music delivered in inimitable style and perfection by this fantastic ensemble. To finish with the Serenade was, for me, the icing on the cake. It’s a work I know and love but any familiarity was dispelled by the Ensemble who never fail to put new gloss on an old favourite. They also provided a wonderful depth of sound that one would expect from a full string orchestra and not from a mere twelve players.
Online this concert might have been, but it was also on-target for a marvellous hour or so of music that got this year’s festival off to a perfect start.
Enjoy an excerpt from Serenade for Strings below. You can buy a ticket and catch up on the concert anytime until Saturday 29th May.