Scottish Opera: Dvorak, Stravinsky
40 Edington Street, Glasgow
Music director of Scottish Opera Stuart Stratford brought the affable and informative presentation style familiar from the company’s orchestral concerts at the Theatre Royal to what he called “the most exciting car park in Glasgow” on Tuesday lunchtime.
The winds and brass of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera moved to the front of the temporary stage built for the company’s production of Falstaff for the second of the musicians’ showcase concerts as part of the company’s Live at No.40 season. The third is on July 16, after a run of performances of Verdi’s Falstaff and a Citizens Theatre production of The Comedy of Errors.
Whatever stylistic playfulness directors Sir David McVicar and Dominic Hill bring to those, the composers featured in this recital had their own to display. Although from different eras and with different instrumentation, they all used form and styles to inventively explore and entertain.
The most familiar work, Dvorak’s Serenade for Winds, was led by the beautifully-rounded tone of Amy Turner’s oboe. What was especially notable, however, was the crucial role in the orchestration played by the two string players, Peter Fry’s double bass and especially Martin Storey’s cello. It was not until the second movement Minuetto that the horns settled into the groove, but the overall ensemble sound by the counterpoint of the Finale was very rich indeed.
As is the combination of instruments in Stravinsky’s 1923 Octet, with the composer’s use of muted brass and exploitation on the clarinet’s lower chalumeau register crucial to the colours. As conductor Stratford introduced it, there are indeed “classical” references in the modernist composer’s writing, but there are also suggestions of minimalism to come in the repetitions of some phrases, in what is a tricky and fascinating piece.
Enrique Crespo’s Suite Americana No.1 also has considerable difficulties for the players of the brass quintet, and its exploration of five dance forms would also be a challenge to actually dance to. The shifting rhythms of the bossa nova, oompah waltz, and soundtracky samba are all great fun though. This evocation of South America almost brought the sun out.