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Mozart Symphonies - SCO & Sir Charles Mackerras - The Scotsman


01 March 2008
The Scotman (Live)
Kenneth Walton
4 Stars

The combination of Sir Charles Mackerras and the SCO means only one thing - power-packed Mozart that has you sitting on the edge of your seat craving more. Just listen to their latest Linn recording of Mozart's last four symphonies, which is utterly breathtaking. Experience it live, though, and delirium sets in.

Thursday's all-Mozart programme was, above all else, an intimate affair. With chorus, soloists and orchestra squeezing into the Queen's Hall, something of a physical and emotional squash was inevitable.

As the mighty exclamations that open the lesser-known Sunday Vespers shot out at the packed crowd, the experience was how you'd imagine experiencing a Shakespearean play in a compact Elizabethan theatre.

The music itself isn't Mozart's most inspired - a rushed job, perhaps, as the utilitarian construction of its Laudate pueri suggests. But Mackerras homed in on its ecstatic directness, drawing incisive energy from the chorus (most of the time) and an even contribution from the solo quartet - Lucy Crowe (soprano), Anna Stephany (mezzo), Timothy Robertson (tenor), and James Rutherford (bass).

Crowe added to the spiralling delights of the evening with her impressive coloratura in the well-worn Exultate jubilate.

But then the spotlight turned on the SCO, and a performance of the "Prague" Symphony that explored every emotional cavity of the work - at some length, ultimately, given Mackerras's adherence to the repeats. Subtle nuances highlighted the operatic subtext of the music. Robust sensitivity is Mackerras's hallmark, and it drove this exhilarating concert from start to finish.
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Scottish Chamber OrchestraScottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Charles MackerrasSir Charles Mackerras
Mozart Symphonies 38 - 41Mozart Symphonies 38 - 41