Edinburgh's Christmas season launches on the second last Sunday of November, with the first in a series of Christmas light nights.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s flagship project for upper secondary school music students has been in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Kilmarnock this month and culminates in free concert
It was the most perfect of summer evenings to celebrate the ending of another fine Edinburgh International Festival. Entering the Gardens from the St Cuthbert's Steps, the audience seemed larger than it has ever been. Regulars had been arriving in good time to get a view from the grassy slope that is not interrupted by trees. This year more than ever; many were having to watch through the branches. But there was an eager expectation and only slight frustration of a seven minute delay in the start of the concert.
The Usher Hall was full to watch Sir Simon Rattle conduct his London Symphony Orchestra in a programme of two works, both of about an hour in length. The large Orchestra was to play what we might consider a traditional symphony in its form as well as a more modern symphony-length work.
Britten’s War Requiem was commissioned for the opening of Coventry Cathedral following the destruction of an earlier building by German bombs in November 1940. Edinburgh architect Basil Spence was a popular choice as architect, whilst there was considerable concern over the choice of Benjamin Britten for the music for its opening. Britten was not only homosexual but as a pacifist had fled to America for the early years of the Second World War.
The Quartet was formed 21 years ago, and this long-term collaboration really shows in the ease with which they communicate during the performance. Each member of the Quartet throws themselves into the full body of the music with such commitment that the audience is taken on a wonderful, energetic and passionate journey through the pieces performed.
Both Scottish premieres, two profound and powerful works that had the Usher Hall enthralled.
The Choir has achieved a reputation for its “rich and beautiful sound”, an accolade which it lived up to, in this jaw-dropping recital of astounding quality.
Consisting of eleven pieces within the modern choral tradition, the programme gave us a succession of beautiful works which had all the characteristics that the genre is known for: an unashamedly uplifting feel, numerous key changes, and lush harmonies – ‘The Ground’ and ‘Alleluia’ being two of the very best examples.
Part of the programme for St Vincent’s week long Sacred Arts Festival, this was a fascinating recital of a rarely performed piece.
Seven succinct cantatas compose a meditative reflection on the crucified Christ, with the text taken from the mediaeval hymn ‘Salve Mundi Salutare’. Each cantata is inspired by a biblical text reworked into a sung devotion, with each section addressed to one of the Limbs of Christ, the title of this work.
There are many musical recitals taking place at the Fringe, but this one immediately struck you as being a bit different.
Not only were we able to hear the beautiful 1755 Kirkman double-manual harpsichord in Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall; but the programme itself had an eye-catching, maybe naughty title. Handel is well-known for borrowing material from other composers for inclusion in his own works; here we heard one of them, George Muffat, doing the same to Handel, with his 1736 ‘improved’ version of Handel’s Suite No. 4 in E minor.