City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Vienna to Prague, Queen's Hall, Review

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 11 October 2013

Llyr Williams
Show Details
Queen's Hall
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Alexander Janiczek (Director/Pianist)
Llyr Williams (Piano), Members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Running time: 

Dvorak’s Notturno for strings was the first piece on the programme at the Queen’s Hall concert. It began life as a string quartet and Dvorak gradually expanded it for string orchestra. A short piece, it is hauntingly beautiful. It starts with slow cellos, then the violins and violas join in, gradually building to a crescendo then dying away again.

Alexander Janiczek, who was guest conductor and principal violinist, is an inspirational performer. He integrates with the music with such passion eliciting the most exquisite sounds from his violin you could see how the musicians would be utterly motivated to emulate his expertise – and indeed they were, for the performance was full of the delicate nuances Dvorak had obviously intended for this piece. It was overall a beautiful rendition of the Notturno.

Llyr Williams, the acclaimed Welsh pianist, was next on the agenda playing Mozart’s piano concerto no 23 in A. The year 1786 was a prolific year for Mozart: he composed this piano concerto in tandem with his popular opera The Marriage of Figaro.

Williams and Janiczek often work in collaboration and so it was a pleasure to have them performing with the SCO. Performing a Mozart concerto requires complete precision from the pianist with the unending runs and trills embroiled in his compositions and Williams playing was impeccable in these passages. And in the middle movement, the adagio, the sound of tragic undertones was gorgeously drawn out by Williams’s interpretation. The finale, by comparison, is frenetic and the orchestra, under the guidance of Janiczek sounded superb.

We then moved to the twentieth century and heard Janacek’s composition for piano, two violins, viola, clarinet, French horn and bassoon. In four movements, it starts with a strident piano theme, played by LlyrWilliams, which Janacek compared to a ‘grumpy hedgehog’. The French horn then joins in. It is a difficult instrument of play and it’s easy to fluff notes but Alec Frank-Gemmill’s playing was first-rate.

With Williams conducting from the piano, the second movement – ‘fidgety squirrel’ – featured only piano and oboe. The SCO oboeist, Robin Williams, performed flawlessly, hitting the high notes to perfection. The third movement – ‘night owl and other animals’ – involved the entire ensemble as did the fourth – ‘scene from a fairy-tale, where everybody is arguing.’ With Alexander Janiczek as principal violinist, the ensemble worked well together mimicking these imaginary animals.

The last piece on the programme was Mozart’s Symphony No 38 in D MAJOR. Composed in the same year as the 23rd piano concerto, it is a stirring composition featuring prominent drum passages juxtaposed, as ever, with sweet segments. Under the influence of Janiczek’s conducting and passionate playing the concert concluded in a rousing finale.


Glasgow City Halls: Friday 11 October 7.30pm

Aberdeen Music Hall: Saturday 12 October 7.30pm