Archive for April 27th, 2008

The Scottish Ensemble played the last concert of the season in Perth, and it was the last date of the current tour.    At 3pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon in April, it was actually a big ask to get people to come along, and I could not have bought a ticket in advance confidently.    But there was a gap in the farm work, and I was really glad that I went.

The concert started with Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B flat major in five short movements.     I actually don’t think I have heard the Ensemble play Handel before, and the approach was really different to what one would expect.

Next, Raphael Wallfisch joined the group to play a CPE Bach Cello Concerto.    I was a little disappointed with his playing, which although technically very good, lacked something.     His cello had a massively long spike – roughly three quarters of the length of the body of the instrument.   This resulted in the cello being held almost between the kneecaps and at an angle of about 45 degrees to his body.    It also meant that the instrument remained almost locked static, and perhaps it was this that made for a rather dry performance.    In contrast, Alison Lawrence of the Ensemble had a shorter spike, and a cello angle of more like 60 degrees:   the result was that she and the cello moved as the music took them.   

But the meat of the concert was in the second half with Jonathan Morton’s arrangement of the Brahms String Quintet No 2 taking the Ensemble into full-on romantic mode.    It was teriffic music, and as always with these concerts, so entertaining to watch the chemistry between the players.    Jonathan Morton, leading the group did not just stand there and keep time – he was often up on the balls of his feet in the exciting bits urging on the players with great dramatic flourishes of his own playing.

And they are coming back next season with a really exciting programme – Alison Balsom (seen playing in Soldier’s Tale) among the soloists, and for me, a really exciting concert of modern American music  with Adam’s Shaker Loops, and Reich’s Clapping.    Can’t wait for that one.


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