City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Faure Requiem, Usher Hall, Review

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 01 April 2011

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Show Details
The Usher Hall
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Robin Ticciati (Conductor)
Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Neal Davies (Bass Baritone), Members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Running time: 

The unifying theme in this Scottish Chamber Orchestra's concert was dignified, haunting ethereal string passages - present in all three of the compositions featured in the programme.

The concert began with Wagner's 'Siegfried Idyll'. One of the most romantic pieces of music ever composed, it was performed in 1869 on Christmas Day as a surprise birthday present for his second wife, Cosima, to celebrate the birth of their son Siegfried. 

The small ensemble of musicians had gathered quietly on the staircase of their home in Lucerne, and Cosima awoke to the sounds of music "which swelled fuller and fuller." The music is so evocative of dawn breaking to herald the birth of a new day with the crescendo of strings and the lilting flute melody, resonant of a lark ascending. 

The conductor, Robin Ticciati - now in his second season as Principal Conductor of the SCO - is developing a marvellous rapport with the players and with great sensitively successfully elicits the tenderest sounds from the strings, in particular.

Franz Schreker's 'Chamber Symphony' also begins with a haunting melody. Written in 1910, Schreker's work reached a peak in the 1920's Weimer Republic, but he fell out of favour when the National Socialists gathered power and only recently has his work been revived, most notably his 'Chamber Symphony.' 

The music is scored for just a selection of the string section and incorporates harmonium, harp, solo wind instruments, piano and percussion. With delicate passages and intricate tempi, one can discern a variety of influences in his music such as Debussy and Mahler.

Faure's 'Requiem' was the last piece on the programme. One of his most popular works, and in antithesis to other composers (Mozart, Berlioz), he interestingly avoided the morbidity of death and viewed the topic as "a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience." 

This ethereal element was beautifully evoked in the singing of the SCO choir whose voices were sublime in the pianissimo passages. The soloists also were outstanding - Neal Davies, bass baritone and Carolyn Simpson, soprano. Under the expert guidance of Ticciati, the performance of the musicians, singers and soloists was superb - an absolutely engrossing interpretation of this beautiful work.

Future performances

Friday 1 April, 7.30pm - Glasgow City Halls

Saturday 2 April, 7.30pm - Aberdeen Music Hall