Review: Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Baroque Dances With Maxim

EDINBURGH concert-goers were treated to a truly marvellous evening when, half way through their 40th anniversary season, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra played a programme entitled Baroque Dances with Maxim before a packed and enthusiastic audience.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 11:29 am
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 11:34 am
Maxim Emelyanychev

QUEEN'S HALL, Clerk Street

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Maxim is their recently appointed Principal Conductor, the flamboyant young Russian, Maxim Emelyanychev with whom they have struck up an obviously affectionate and superbly effective relationship.

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With more than a passing resemblance to the young Ian Rankin, he controlled a demanding programme from the harpsicord with complete authority, contributing himself with what sounded like a penny whistle and a bodhran.

The programme was indeed one of two halves. It celebrated the role that dance, inspired by elaborate protocol at the court of Louis XIV, played in the music of four composers, two French and two German.

The earliest, Lully, perhaps the founding father of the school that incorporated music and danced into the context of a play, was represented by his compositions for Moliere's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Beautifully played, this suite contained unusual percussion instruments to illustrate the aspiring gentilhomme's delusions about an aspiring suitor for his daughter having connections with the Turkish court.

Throughout, therefore, the delicacy of the SCO's playing was accompanied by a lightness of touch that flowed from Maxim conducting from the keyboard. The suite by the other French composer, Rameau, who wrote no less than twenty four operas and ballets, was Les Indes Galantes, dazzlingly performed by an orchestra which throughout the concert played with verve and style.

Telemann, not to be outdone reputedly composed no less that 50 operas, and the Alster overture, requiring a fuller orchestra, provided plenty of opportunities for all sections to demonstrate their superb musicality under Maxim’s energetic guidance.

Bach, perhaps the most familiar of the evening’s quartet, wrote his Orchestral Suite No. 4 as dance pieces very much in the tradition set down by his predecessors, and its sparkling performance was a superb finale to a wonderful concert, rounded of by a couple of encores which gave us all the chance to show how much we had enjoyed this orchestra at the height of its powers guided by an exceptional conductor.