Scottish Chamber Orchestra - 40th Anniversary Edition - Audiophile Audition
14 March 2014Audiophile Audition
assemblage of performances, 2003-2013, celebrates the Scottish Chamber
Orchestra, the youngest of the Scotland-based ensembles of major significance.
Robin Ticciati, the most recent of its Principal Conductors, leads a luminous
rendition of Wagner's bitter-sweet A Siegfried Idyll (1870)
from Usher Hall, Edinburgh from 3 September 2013. Along with the resonant glow
of the SCO strings, we have rounded phrasing from French horns Alec
Frank-Gemmil and Harry Johnstone. Oboe Robin Williams contributes his own
luster to the mix, assisted by extremely hearty playing in the violas, cellos,
and basses. Echoes of the "Forest Murmurs" from Siegfried blend
with the so-called "steps music" to form a seamless tapestry of bucolic
heroism, ardent and intelligently lit.
Swenson holds the post of Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber
Orchestra. He elicits a bold transparency - rec. 24 March 2003 at Usher
Hall - for the music of Jean Sibelius, the composer's Second Suite of
nine movements from The Tempest (1927), atmospheric music that
calls early upon the talents of the SCO harp and tympani. Generally, the Suite
No. 2 proves more intimate than the 1925 First Suite,
capturing the airy delicacy of characters Ariel, Miranda, and island Nymphs.
The "Dance of the Nymphs" enjoys a special delicate inspiration. A broad melody
defines "Prospero," the magician who stands for Shakespeare's late merger of
artistic allegory and dramatic truth.
Charles Mackerras (1925-2010), an eminent Mozart interpreter, leads a noble processional
account of that composer's epic Jupiter Symphony from City
Halls, Glasgow, UK, 6 August 2007. The SCO string section has
become uncannily alert, even in the midst of the pomp and ceremony of the
trumpets and drums. But the capacity for profound intimacy remains, especially
in the muted, veiled violins that color the amazing Andante cantabile.
Mackerras reigns as a master of Mozart's tricky agogics and
sonic balances, and the result in the first movement produces a grand,
mysterious sound that often harkens to Don Giovanni. The Menuetto:
Allegretto throbs with the passion of an incipient sturm und
drang, each repetition of the main melody's gaining
increased power and sonority, especially from the tympani and brass. The
colossal nobility of spirit - as much Mackerras' as Mozart's - spills
ineluctably into the Molto allegro and its transcendent polyphony. The
marvelous dynamic range of Mozart's expression, its lofty suddenness, its
intrusion of singular instruments and their ensuing combinations, proffer a
cornucopia of effects, all of which testify to a the wondrous depths a true
humanity can command. If this recording were to serve as Sir Charles Mackerras'
swan-song, it would long reveal and certify the purity of his musical mission.
Related LinksJoseph SwensenRobin TicciatiScottish Chamber OrchestraSir Charles MackerrasScottish Chamber Orchestra: 40th Anniversary Edition