Schumann Symphony Cycle: II, Usher Hall, Review

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Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Robin Ticciati (Conductor)
Alina Pogostkina - Violin: Members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
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As part of their fortieth anniversary celebrations, last night Robin Ticciati concluded his ambitious programme of performing Schumann’s symphonic cycle with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In the previous week they performed the fourth and the first symphony (which was written in only four days), and in this concert we heard the second and third. A complex, troubled soul the symphonies reflect the emotional agonies Schumann experienced over the years he took to complete the cycle.

The concert began with Symphony No 2 in C composed soon after Schumann was recovering from a nervous breakdown. In four movements it was as if Schumann was narrating in music his recent turbulent journey as it starts on a bleak, ponderous tone featuring the horn. Gradually though, he introduces an element of optimism and the music oscillates between pianissimo and dramatic crescendos embellished in the flurry of strings. The bassoon solo in the Adagio heralds a return to melancholy but all is redeemed in the moving Finale in which Ticciati contrived to create a sumptuous orchestral sound.

The Russian violinist Alina Pogostkina was the soloist in Brahms Violin Concerto. [It was fitting to have included Brahms in this concert as he and the Schuman’s had become inseparable friends since his youth and he had lived in their house for many years]. Pogostkina is an extremely accomplished violinist and last night she gave a breath-taking performance. Her playing of the cadenza in the first movement was dazzling, and her interpretation was superb, particularly in the Finale, as she skilfully juxtaposed strident passages with exquisite tenderness. She has already collaborated with Ticciati – and together, with the orchestra, they created a marvellous performance.

The evening concluded with Schumann’s ‘Rhenish’ Symphony No 3 in E flat. In five movements, it is a rousing composition which prominently features the brass section – reminiscent of Wagner – but still succeeds in emphasising Schumann’s romanticism in the third movement with the opulent strings. Indeed Ticciati highlighted the emotions in the composition by creating an effective pregnant pause between the movements. The symphony concludes with a majestic finale, and under Ticciati’s baton it highlighted his effective control of the orchestra.


Friday 29th November – City Halls, Glasgow, 7.30pm


£14 - £28