Mozart’s Last Symphonies

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

6 / 10 / 16

sco cropped for TAD.jpg

Is it that time of year already? The leaves are in their first flush of Autumnal colour, like a wee brown bruise on a plum, while in the changing room at the Usher Hall, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra is slipping into its stylishly eclectic ebony uniforms, in order to sail us all through a season of classical classics. Then who better to begin with than the master himself, Amadeus Mozart. Back in 1788, the fellow spent a summer composing three of his greatest symphonies, a swansong if you will, numbers 39, 40 & 41. Unfortunately for Amadeus, war broke out in Austria, which saw Vienn’a art-lovers flee the city in fear, thus reneging on the admission fees to see Mozart’s new wok.

In fact, in his lifetime (he died in 1791), only number 40 was performed. Roll on almost 250 years, & the SCO are giving us quite a treat by playing them together. Svend Brown told the Mumble, ‘One of the marvelous hallmarks of these pieces is Mozart’s marriage of ‘learned,’ profound musical thinking with popular courtly dance tunes & the interplay of human drama that carachterises his operas at their most glorious.‘ Yes, a suitably wonderful start from the SCO for the 16-17 season.

As a spectacle, an orchestra begins with its conductor, & Robin Ticciati was on top form. A nimble-footed adonis, he kept up a vastly entertaining barrage of flicks & flows with his mercurial wand. From the jarring start of movement number one, in the 39, we were immediately flung into the marvel that is Mozart’s genius. After an half hour of supreme musicianship from the SCO – one of the warmest orchestras I’ve seen in recent years – the familiar strains of 40 filled the Usher Hall. A smooth, superlatavian ride thro’ Mozart’s muse, one could actually feel the revolutionary thought-waves that were just about to explode across Europe.

There is no whimsy in these three symphonies, no dredge or drudge, only beauty & the honey-laden sparkle of summer. Yes, Mozart captured the moment with perfect diligence, & one which was created last night with dazzling panache. Roll on net month

Reviewer : Damian Besson Bullen

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