Oundjian and Benedetti Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Usher Hall, Review

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Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Rachmaninov/Respighi, March from Cinq Études-tableaux; Shostakovich, Violin Concerto No 1; Tchaikovsky, Symphony No 4.
Peter Oundjian (conductor), Nicola Benedetti (violin).
Running time

The first four minutes set us in the mood for some fine Russian music with the seldom heard March from Rachmaninov's Cinq Études-tableaux. Was it a dishevelled marching band or the scene at a fair that was in Rachmaninov's mind? Originally for piano it was orchestrated many years later by Respighi.

In one of Peter Oundjian's shorter introductions he decided there was little to say other than to welcome Scotland's favourite violinist and now international star, Nicola Benedetti, to play Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No 1.

Bill Chandler, the Orchestra's Associate Leader, had been himself at the pre-concert talk having stood-in for others in the previous two talks. He described playing the Violin Concerto as difficult but was surprised that this week of performances in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow would mark the first time Nicola Benedetti had played it in front of an audience. It was relentless with only a few moments of let-up for the Stradivari of 1717. But the audience loved every moment - enough for a short encore of a particularly Scottish version of Auld Lang Syne.

The buoyant mood of a full Usher Hall increased with the opening brass fanfare of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 4. The composer was down in the dumps as he tackled fate, followed by joy - but then had to resign himself to the invincible power of destiny. It was powerful, likeable and interesting even when all the string players placed their bows on the floor for the third movement's Pizzicato ostinato. Written for Tchaikovsky's benefactor Nadezhda von Meck and even though they agreed never to meet they called it 'Our Symphony'. It was ours too after a memorable performance.

Concert: Friday 14th November 2014 at 7.30pm