Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Concert Programme 2009/10 Review

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Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras (conductor), Radovan Vlatkovic (horn), Bradley Creswick (first violin), members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
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The Scottish Chamber Orchestra concert at the Queen's Hall was led by renowned Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras.  The orchestra and he work particularly well together - last May they were awarded the Critics' Award at the 2009 Classical Brit Awards for their recording of Mozart's Symphonies 38 - 42 and last night's concert began with another Mozart Symphony, No 35 in D major, the Haffner Symphony.

Mackerras is an extraordinary person still exuding energy in his mid-eighties.  A connoisseur of Mozart he conducted seated, his shoulders and expressive hands adeptly bringing out the best in the musicians, who particularly excelled in the final Presto movement.

Next on the agenda was the German composer Richard Strauss' Horn Concerto No 1.  His father was the first horn in the Munich Court Orchestra and Strauss wrote this Concerto in 1882 when he was only nineteen.  In three consecutive movements, the soloist in this performance was Radovan Vlatkovic.  One of the world's leading horn players he has been winning awards since the l970's. 

The horn is a notoriously difficult instrument to play and this horn concerto, with its high B-flats and rolling arpeggios in the finale require dexterous playing and Vlatkovic skilfully created beautiful, pure sounds on the instrument and gave a flawless performance. 

The final piece on the programme was Richard Strauss' Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme - based on Moliere's play which deals with the pretentious social climber Monsieur Jordan.  In nine movements, it is a delightful interpretation of the pomp and circumstance surrounding Jordan's elevation into society. 

Beginning with an orchestral frivolous flurry we are taken on a musical journey of Jordan's preparations for a huge reception which involve, amongst others, the Fencing Master and Tailors.  Bradley Creswick, the solo violinist and guest leader in this composition, played quite exquisitely as the Master Tailor and in the following Minuet of Lully. 

Written in 1918 the piece must have been a welcome relief to hear after the devastation of the war.  Thoroughly entertaining, with its then avant-garde musical variations, the musicians in the orchestra, under the expert guidance of Mackerras, ended this concert with a flourish and received well-deserved rapturous applause for their performance.