City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: Dramatic Beethoven, Scottish Chamber Orchestra

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 14 March 2009

James Ehnes, violinist
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Queen's Hall
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Louis Langree (conductor), James Ehnes (violinist), members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Running time: 

Thursday night's concert at the Queen's Hall got off to a robust start with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra playing Beethoven's Egmont Overture, Op 84, said to be inspired by his 'pure love' for Goethe's five act tragedy of the same name. Flamboyant French guest conductor Louis Langree conducted this dramatic composition, with a rich string and brass section enforcing the juxtaposition of good and evil.

Next came Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major.  The soloist was James Ehnes (pictured), the Canadian violinist, who must surely rank as one of the top performers in the world. Working in perfect sync with the conductor, his rendition of Tchaikovsky's only Violin Concerto was superb. Playing the 'Ex Marsik' Stradivarius, he mastered the complex passages with great virtuosity - particularly the cadenza in the first movement with its notoriously high notes.

A seasoned performer (he made his orchestral debut at the age of 13) he did not appear to be concerned when his bow hairs broke on three separate occasions during his playing of fortissimo passages - the last one being halfway through the finale.

But even that did not detract from the magnificent full sound he created on his instrument prompting rapturous applause from the audience.  And to appease the enthralled audience he played, as an encore, the last movement of J.S. Bach's Sonata no 3 - Allegro Assai.

Finally, Louis Langree, a charismatic conductor, conducted Beethoven's Symphony no 7 without a score - a most unusual thing to do.  Consisting of four movements, it was a thrilling orchestral performance.  With his intimate knowledge of the music, he energetically and fervently absorbed all the sections - strings, woodwind, brass, and drums - in a work that pulsates with inexorable energy throughout.

Friday 13 March - Glasgow City Hall - 7.30pm
Saturday 14 March - Aberdeen Music Hall - 7.30pm