EIF 2014: Holst's The Planets, Usher Hall, Review

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Rating (out of 5)
4
Show info
Company
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Production
Britten, Sinfonia da Requiem; Berg, Seven Early Songs; Holst, The Planets; Colin Matthews, Pluto.
Performers
Donald Runnicles (conductor), Michaela Kaune (soprano), Edinburgh Festival Chorus
Running time
120mins

It may have been that some in the audience had come for The Planet's and knew they had to put up with the Britten and Berg beforehand. But how wrong they were. Seventy years after it was composed Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem is mature, complicated and sophisticated but overall moving. Benjamin Britten and his partner, Peter Pears, were pacifists who had moved to the United States at the rumblings of World War Two. This is where the work was written in memory of his parents and its performances there did much to further his career.

Seventeen years after his marriage to Helene she persuaded Alban Berg to publish some songs from the many he had written both before and after their wedding. Seven were chosen - Night, Reed Song, The Nightingale, Crowned with dreams, In the room, Ode to love and Summer days. Michaela Kaune sung them most beautifully and although not a German speaker I thoroughly enjoyed myself following so easily the English translation in the programme. At the interval the conversations were buzzing with enthusiasm.

Donald Runnicles, an Edinburgh man, was conducting his own orchestra and they gave us Holst's The Planets in fine measure indeed. Added on was Colin Matthew's Pluto, first performed in 2000 and when the Edinburgh Festival Chorus sung through the doors of the circle gallery - later to emerge to join in the well deserved applause for a very fine concert.

Concert: Saturday 9th August 2014 at 8pm