Festival Music: Filarmonica della Scala, Usher Hall

AN odd selection of pieces constituted the first of Filarmonica della Scala’s Festival concerts. Enescu’s two Romanian Rhapsodies may be his most well-known works, but they performed the less popular and more introspective second one. Moreover, Bartók’s Viola Concerto was left unfinished at the composer’s death and we can only hear it now in its reconstructed form.

Read the full review on The Herald.

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Festival Music review: Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis and Dénes Várjon, Queen’s Hall

EXPECTATIONS were high for the coming together of three top performers – violinist Joshua Bell, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Dénes Várjon – and they certainly did not disappoint. Isserlis’s treatment of Schumann’s wistful melodies in his Three Romances was spot on. He took the first at restrained pace, striking a more reflective than overly emotional tone. Such an approach may have meant that the stormy central section of the second Romance could have been more aggressive, but his refusal to let melodrama reign worked astonishingly well in the third.

Read the full review on The Herald.

Festival Music review: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Usher Hall

IT IS not at all surprising that an American symphony orchestra would show an affinity with Bernstein and Copland – two of its country’s great 20th-century composers. With an extensive brass and percussion section, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra relished the brash loudness that these composers ask for, but that is not to suggest their performance was crudely one-dimensional. Bernstein’s arrangement of his film score for On the Waterfront into a symphonic suite provided the orchestra’s different sections an opportunity to show-off.

Read the full review on The Herald.

Festival Music review: Chiaroscuro Quartet, Queens Hall

WITH a first half consisting of two pre-Romantic composers, one might have expected that the expressive range of the Chiaroscuro Quartet would be limited. J.S. Bach’s instrumental music can seem drily academic, while Haydn may prioritise refinement over subjective feelings. But such emotional emptiness was entirely missing in the Chiaroscuro’s performance, which never fell short of riveting.

Read the full review on The Herald.

Festival Music review: Richard Egarr, St. Cecilia’s Hall

RICHARD Egarr must be one the best advocates for early music. For while his recital of 16th-century English keyboard music may not sound all that approachable, his affable manner and enthusiasm did much to disprove such expectations. Egarr did not assume that his audience would be well-versed in the music of William Byrd, John Blow and Henry Purcell. He also eagerly explained the ins and outs of the three rather special, centuries-old harpsichords from the St Cecilia’s Hall and Museum’s collection assembled on stage, and took obvious delight in the prospect of playing them.

Festival Music review: François Leleux and Eric Le Sage, Queens Hall, Edinburgh

WHO would have thought that a recital of music for oboe and piano could have elicited such a variety of moods? Already with the opening piece, Saint-Saëns’ Oboe Sonata Op. 166, we were treated to the many sides of oboist François Leleux’s playing. He immediately captured the sweetness of the first movement’s pastoral and then the birdlike melody in the second. Quirky cheerfulness followed in the first movement of Hindemith’s Oboe Sonata, in contrast the beautifully sustained notes in the second movement, played grippingly, despite the simplicity of the melody.

Read the full review on The Herald.

Fringe Music review: Beethoven for Breakfast, Royal Over-Seas League

COMPOSED over a century apart, Beethoven’s highly classical Piano Trio in E-flat and Ravel’s stylishly French A minor Piano Trio prove how diverse this genre can be. But this was not the only reason behind the two-sided performance given by the Aurelian Trio as part of the Royal Over-Seas League’s series of Edinburgh Fringe recitals, as it quickly became clear that these young musicians were far more comfortable with one work than the other.

Fringe Music Review: Keyboards at St. Cecilia’s

WHO would have thought that tucked amongst the pubs and clubs of Cowgate lies the oldest purpose-build concert hall in Scotland? Having recently re-opened, and with an”official” Festival season underway, St Cecilia’s Hall began a series of Fringe concerts with not one but two harpsichordists in an intriguing if quirky recital of harpsichord duos.

Read the full review on The Herald.

Fringe Music review: Mozart at Teatime, Royal Overseas League

OVER 30 classical music recitals are taking place at the Royal Over-Seas League’s clubhouse for the next two weeks. They may seem a world away from the Fringe’s raucous comedy shows, but it would be a shame to miss this more refined aspect of the festival. The third concert in the series was a rare treat: an opportunity to hear opera arias by Mozart and Rossini in a far more intimate setting than an opera house.

Edinburgh Festival: Opening Concert, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

THE decision to open the Edinburgh International Festival’s first concert in 1947 with a Haydn symphony seems rather unambitious. Haydn’s symphonies only require a chamber orchestra – tiny in comparison to the mighty forces required by the likes of Mahler, Bruckner and Wagner. But if 2017’s opening concert, which reprised Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G, the “Surprise”, from the 1947 programme, is anything to go by, size is no determiner of magnificence. Read the full review on The Herald.

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