north east scotland's festival of new music

press reviews

Aberdeen Sinfonietta, Music Hall, Aberdeen

Written by Alan Cooper, The Herald

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

article | The Herald

Star rating: ****

The Sound Festival reached a resoundingly exciting conclusion with a performance that included a new Guitar Concerto by Aberdeen born composer John McLeod. McLeod conducted Aberdeen Sinfonietta, an orchestra that is thoroughly professional in all but name and with the young star of the guitar Ian Watt as soloist. The Concerto was composed with this very performer in mind. Music by Berlioz, Borodin and a heroic performance of the Second Symphony of Sibelius completed the programme.

McLeod's Guitar Concerto is a remarkably finely crafted work that gives the music for the soloist a decidedly Spanish flavour. Fiery suggestions of Flamenco set the opening movement ablaze while the gestures of Spanish dance run through the finale. At the heart of the work is a Cantilena that has the touch of dark melancholy said to be an essential part of the Spanish soul. The orchestral writing mirrored the soloist nicely with its incisive rhythmic jabs and imaginative use of orchestral colour.

Watt gave a dazzlingly virtuosic performance, most excitingly in the cadenza of the final movement which he had contributed.

Technically, the Overture Béatrice et Bénédict by Berlioz was the orchestra's most accomplished performance. Tightly controlled, detailed and well focused playing with silky strings and a remarkable light touch carried it off. This was eclipsed by the epic power of the Sibelius Symphony. Swirling strings, the irresistible force of glowing brass and, in the finale, the blazing light of melody really hit home.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

reviewed event
  Date Day Time Location Event Details
14Sun 7.30 pmAberdeenAberdeen Sinfonietta