Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique - SCO & Ticciati - The Telegraph

Admirers of Robin Ticciati might be surprised, and not a little frustrated, that his discography has so far been rather small, although at the age of only 28 he still has plenty of time. Prior to this release of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique there have been only two commercial recordings, both of music by Brahms (Tudor 7167 and 7183), both of them first-rate, and both with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, of which Ticciati is principal guest conductor. He has been at the helm of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra since 2009, and this first collaboration on disc captures all the energy, the finesse and the sheer panache with which he invests his live concerts.

A chamber orchestra, and particularly one of the SCO's skill, makes an ideal exponent of the Symphonie Fantastique. With trimmer forces than a larger symphonic ensemble, Berlioz's scoring comes across with remarkable clarity, its textures translucent, its individual timbres well characterised, its mixes subtly variegated. The SCO also has the capability of full, rounded sonorities and explosive thrills when the occasion demands, and there is much to catch in the ear in terms of the playing of solo instrumentalists - the pastoral cor anglais in the second movement, for example, or the frighteningly shrill E flat clarinet in the finale's Witches' Sabbath.

Ticciati draws on these elements with both discretion and vitality, placing them within a thoughtfully chosen spectrum of colour and within an interpretation that is conceived cohesively yet with the music's scenario sharply defined. With the overture to Béatrice et Bénédict as an agile encore, this is a performance of the Symphonie Fantastique that possesses both fantasy and symphonic strength, and let's hope it is the harbinger of more discs capitalising on the exciting artistic relationship that Ticciati and the SCO have forged.

The Telegraph
13 April 2012