City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2017 Classical Music Preview


By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 18 March 2017

The Opening Concert at the Usher Hall on Saturday 5th August begins with Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, just as it did at the first concert of the 1947 International Festival. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is conducted by Granada-born Pablo Heras-Casado whilst Christoper Bell will have been preparing the Edinburgh Festival Chorus for Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, Hymn of Praise. Composed in 1840, Dorothea Röschmann and Emma Bell are the soprano soloists with Werner Güra, the tenor.

Nicola Benedetti plays the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer on 10th August.

On 12th August, Edward Gardner conducts the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in a programme of Wagner, Grieg and Elgar. The Grieg is his Piano Concerto in A minor played by visionary British pianist Paul Lewis.

Sir James MacMillan conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in three works which have all been premiered at previous Edinburgh International Festivals. Included on 19th August is his Epiclesis, the others are by Walton and Tippett.

Verdi’s Requiem is played by the orchestra and chorus of Turin’s Teatro Regio Torino with hand picked international soloists. Their maestro Gianandrea Noseda conducts the performance on 22nd August.

The Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre join with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Valery Gergiev for Shostakovich’s massive Symphony No 4 on 23rd August. It was first performed outside the USSR at the 1962 Edinburgh International Festival.

Copland’s Lincoln Portrait was premiered in 1942 by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra who include it in their concert on 25th August. The narrator uses excerpts of Abraham Lincoln’s great documents.

It is a measure of the calibre of the Queen’s Hall concerts that all but a few are to be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. For many people the Queen’s Hall series is their International Festival. Edinburgh’s Dunedin Consort kicks off on 5th August and includes a mini-opera, a premiere of a recently rediscovered work by Monteverde and Schütz.

We are used to Mikhail Pletnev in font of his Russian National Orchestra, but on 9th August he is giving a piano recital. There’s no telling what he might be playing though. I’m curious to see the Gringolts Quartet play contemporary composer Jörg Widmann’s Quartet No 3 The Hunt. That’s on 12th August. Some of the Schumann romances, by both Robert and Clara, feature in a chamber music concert on 26th August.

Recently renovated, St Cecilia’s Hall hosts six concerts, each starting at 5.45pm for about an hour. Look out for the Schubertiade on 10th August.

Towards the end of the printed programme are two fascinating events. Between 17th and 27th August at the National Library of Scotland is Staffa. It’s a three screen installation combining the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at the National Library paying homage to Mendelssohn’s visit to Fingal’s Cave in 1829. There’s a live performance on 27th August.

Pianist Alfred Brendel says he is never going to write an autobiography. So what better than his lecture at the King’s Theatre at 3pm on 23rd August.