RSNO The Planets, Usher Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Alice Coote RSNO
Show details
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Ireland, The Forgotten Rite; Elgar, Sea Pictures; Holst, The Planets.
John Wilson (conductor), Alice Coote (mezzo-soprano), RSNO Chorus, Stephen Doughty (RSNO Chorus Director)
Running time

The Usher Hall was full for a dreamy opener by almost forgotten composer John Ireland for this concert of music from three English composers. In their pre-concert talk in the Upper Circle Bar Katherine Bryan gave the night's conductor John Wilson free rein to tells us of the almost complete dearth of music from English composers for four hundred years until the end of Queen Victoria's reign and early into the twentieth century. And then came Elgar, Holst and Ireland. John Wilson's enthusiasm for the music we were about to hear was electric - he is such a good speaker, measured but really interesting. But Katherine Bryan remained in control and added her own insights.

Ireland's The Forgotten Rite was a short work which wound itself around the mystical world that the composer inhabited, but fascinating as a tone poem or as a 'prelude for orchestra'.  There's more to Ireland than his church setting Ireland in F. 

The second English composer's work we heard was Elgar and his Sea Pictures. Alice Coote, the mezzo-soprano, quite delightfully sang the five sea-related poems. Of particular interest was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sabbath Morning at Sea and In Haven from Caroline Alice Elgar, the composer's wife. Throughout, the Orchestra was in complete harmony with the soloist and this was the special magic presented to us.

And then came the major work of the night, and what had no doubt brought such a large audience - Holst's The Planets. A speciality of conductor John Wilson, it was crisp and clear, just as Holst would have wanted. Each of the seven planet sections could survive alone, and many are very familiar. So much so that there was audience applause after each. Right at the end of the final planet, Neptune, the Mystic, we heard the distant soprano and alto voices of the RSNO Chorus disappearing bit by bit until all was silent. A wonderful evening of music.

Event: Friday 19th April 2024 at 7.30pm