Pires and SCO Play Beethoven, Usher Hall, Review
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra are developing into a very fine orchestra indeed. Last night, under the expert baton of guest conductor Trevor Pinnock, they gave an excellent performance of compositions by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Mozart.
The first piece on the programme was Mendelssohn's Overture: The Fair Melusine. Written in l833, it is one of three overtures each with sea connotations and is a depiction of the fourteenth century Breton watersprite Melusine, whose body was condemned by a curse to take the form of a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. Despite not allowing her husband to see her on this day, he broke his promise and when they later had a disagreement she assumed the form of a dragon, flew off and never returned.
The Overture has a soothing introduction with strings lulling us into a sense of tranquility, but gentle waters can readily transform into turbulence and there are thrilling passages that reach fantastic crescendoes and then, by the end of the musical journey, we are once again calmed with dulcet strings.
Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 was next on the programme and was performed by one of the best pianists in the world, Maria Joao Pires. Completely immersed in the music, she transported the audience with her marvelous interpretion of this well-known concerto. Her rendition of the cadenza in the middle movement was superb, eliciting all the passion in the delicate passages. The finale was a tour de force. Soon to be recording Beethoven Piano Concertos with Trevor Pinnick, they created a memorable performance of this familiar concerto.
The encore was charming. Another piano stool was brought onto the platform and both Pires and Pinnock sat down and played an entertaining Mozart Sonata for four hands.
The concert concluded with Mozart's Symphony No 39. Trevor Pinnock is a harpsichord player of some repute and has conducted many Mozart compositions over his musical career. Conducting with a panache he brought out the best in the orchestra - the string sections, woodwind, brass, timpani - all blended to give a fine performance playing the last movement of the Symphony at a breath- takingly fast pace.
Friday 14 May - Glasgow City Halls - 7.30pm
Saturday 15 May - Aberdeen Music Hall - 7.30pm