City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Buniatishvili Plays Liszt Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Usher Hall, Review


By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 01 February 2015

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Show Details
Venue: 
The Usher Hall
Company: 
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Production: 
Schumann, Overture, Scherzo and Finale; Liszt, Piano Concerto No 2 in A major; Wagner, Siegfried Idyll; Schumann, Symphony No 1 (Spring).
Performers: 
Christoph Altstaedt (conductor), Khatia Buniatishvili (piano)
Running time: 
135mins

Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 Robert Schumann’s Symphonette, or short symphony, opened the concert. It set us with the mood for the night with its Overture, Scherzo and Finale.

Earlier, in the pre-concert talk Katherine Wren, the viola player, gave the conductor Christoph Altstaedt all the space he needed to tell us about the life, loves and music of the night’s three composers, Schumann, Liszt and Wagner. In his mid thirties and born in Heidelberg he has spent five years largely conducting opera but after a year at home to be with his young son is back conducting. His technique brought vigour and a crispness.

We don’t hear Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 2 all that often partly because there’s only a small amount of solo piano. Instead the pianist is working hard with the orchestra, indeed the orchestra starts the work. The pianist was Khatia Buniatishvili, born in 1987, from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. She certainly made her presence felt and the audience loved it.

It started gently but built up, in one long movement, to an exciting end. But along the way the piano was accompanying Katherine Bryan’s flute, and also the cello. Khatia had worked hard with Aleksei Kiseliov on this notably difficult collaboration - and succeeded on the night. Her encore was the charming Handel’s Minuet in G minor.

Wagner was at his most gentle when he wrote Siegfried Idyll as a private birthday gift for his wife Cosima who had at last divorced which had allowed her to marry Wagner. Their son, Siegfried, was born a year earlier. What Cosima heard early on that birthday morning was a group of musicians playing whilst balancing on the staircase leading up to her bedroom.

The concert’s climax was the symphony which Schumann had sketched out in just four days in January 1841. The full score took him less than a month to complete. Known as his Spring Symphony it gave the trumpets and horns full vent with the opening fanfare. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra showed us what they were about.

Performance: Friday 30th January 2015 at 7.30pm.