City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish Ensemble Side by Side Review

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 25 October 2009

Scottish Ensemble
Show Details
Queen's Hall
Scottish Ensemble
Jonathan Morton (artistic director)
Clio Gould (violin), Jonathan Morton (violin), members of the Scottish Ensemble, students from RSAMD, students from St Mary's Music School
Running time: 

The Scottish Ensemble has over recent years developed a reputation for choosing music for strings that spans the centuries. This programme, part of a tour that commemorates their 40th Anniversary, included such varied pieces as Michael Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra; Luciano Berio's Corale for Violin, two horns and strings; J S Bach's Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor and Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. And unusually all the violin and viola players perform standing up.

Led by their first violinist and artistic director Jonathan Morton, the programme got off to a rousing start with Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra - composed in 1939. In this piece the vibrant sound was enhanced by a selection of players from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

This was followed by the Luciano Berio's Corale (Sequenze V111) for violin, 2 horns and strings. Written in 1980, this composition is an extremely complex one for a violinist to play primarily because it consists of a lengthy series of repetitive notes.

But Clio Gould, who spent three weeks rehearsing with the composer, rose to the challenge. Playing on a 1694 Rutson Stradivarius, she adroitly negotiated the complex repetitive passages, which require a huge amount of concentration.

After the Interval we were transported to the Baroque period when Clio Gould and Jonathan Morton played the J S Bach's Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor, written in 1717. With Gould setting the pace at a terrific lick, they generally gave an adept performance of this popular piece. However, Morton's playing of the top notes in the finale could at times have been more precise.

The concert finished with Vaughan Williams' composition - Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. This enchanting melodic piece for strings brought out the best in the Ensemble under Morton's direction. Incorporating students from St Mary's Music School, the pianissimo passages sounded superb. And by positioning some of the players in the balcony, a beautiful sound was affected as they created a musical echo. An ambitious programme, it was a most enjoyable evening.

The tour continues and culminates in a concert at the Wigmore Hall on 28th October.

24 October - Perth Concert Hall - 7.30pm
25 October - City Halls, Glasgow - 3.00pm
26 October - Caird Hall, Dundee - 7.30pm
28 October - Wigmore Hall, London - 7.30pm