Aberdeen Sinfonietta, Music Hall, Aberdeen
Roger B Williams of Aberdeen University Music conducted Aberdeen Sinfonietta in Tuesday night's programme, which began with a recent work by John Hearne. Into Uncharted Seas was commissioned by the Dundee Orchestral Society to commemorate the centenary of the launch of Captain Scott's ship Discovery. In Hearne's own words: "I was anxious to avoid writing yet another 'seascape', overture or Antartic rhapsody. I wanted to return to the metaphor of the great white unknown. At some stage in our lives we all go into uncharted seas".
His affinity with Nordic music, in particular Sibelius's Tapiola, was evident in his colouring of this piece. Dramatic storms and deep, mysterious calms permeated the music. Lovely woodwind writing and swirling strings animated contrasting episodes, while the percussion section included the sounds of a Saab car spring and an actual piece of wood salvaged from the Discovery. Above all, a sense of noble striving defined this music.
Elgar's Cello Concerto was a fitting complement to the overture. Virtuoso cellist Rohan de Saram gave a superbly controlled patrician performance of the Concerto, perhaps closer to the real spirit of the work than certain more wildly rhapsodic versions. His rich, warm tone easily soared over the orchestra, which responded in kind to the nobility of his playing.
In contrast, the concluding work was Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. In a fiery, passionate and nearly faultless performance, the glorious brass at the opening and the perfectly disciplined pizzicato strings of the third movement were particularly impressive, while in the finale Roger Williams took no prisoners - and nor did he need to.
Copyright Alan Cooper - published in The Herald, Glasgow (Newsquest Media Group)