REVIEWS | The Herald Scotland

Review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Rustioni, City Halls, Glasgow

THE less-often-heard Two Concert Pieces for clarinets will stay lodged firmly in the mind as a highlight of the SCO’s current three-week exploration of the music of Felix Mendelssohn. With the orchestra’s William Stafford playing seated on the lower-register instrument and more flamboyant principal Maximiliano Martin playing the soprano line, this was the equivalent of a sequence of vocal duets from opera, which made it a fine choice to end a first half that began with the Overture to Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers.

Conductor Daniele Rustioni is an opera man, principal conductor at the highly-inventive Opera National de Lyon. He drew from the SCO a concert band performance of this pit classic, with a line-up that was correct for the period, and then appropriately followed by Respighi’s neo-baroque Ancient Airs and Dances.

...All of which was a bonus to the Mendelssohn-feast, here completed by a superb reading of the fifteen-year-old composer’s Symphony No 1. This was Rustioni’s debut with the SCO, but he had clearly developed an instant appreciation for the orchestra’s strengths. Following the later clarinet party-pieces, the First is also much a showcase for the winds, and the SCO has long boasted real strength in that section of the squad. Although he observed pauses between the movements, Rustioni was focused on the complete arc of the work, with the balance between the strings and those wind soloists absolutely perfect in the second movement Andante, and again in the energetic Allegro final.

Keith Bruce, The Herald Scotland