Live from the Barbican: Echoes of Scotland with Alpesh Chauhan and the BBC Symphony Orchestra
The second in the Live from the Barbican series, Echoes of Scotland is a wonderful celebration of Scotland, its culture and its people. Featuring the music of Felix Mendelssohn (his third symphony, which references his travels in Scotland), Sally Beamish (her viola concerto, Under the Wing of the Rock) and Peter Maxwell Davies (An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise), it is a beautiful get-together of sounds from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, performed by the socially distanced yet uncompromised power of the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Alpesh Chauhan’s direction.
Chauhan is at this point of his career undoubtedly an inevitability – some of his milestones include performances with the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms, performances with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, and more; last August he was announced the Associate Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
This range of experience is evident when he conducts Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, an unusual piece with a wide range of tonal shifts making it at times demanding to follow. It starts from a slow introduction leading into a bombastic development that features complex rhythms all the way into its last movement – a mischievous but quick-paced finale with a spectacular outburst at the end, bringing an ultimate majesty to perfection in its final moments.
Beamish’s Under the Wing of the Rock is a viola concerto strongly inspired by Gaelic songs and prayers collected by Alexander Carmichael in the 19th century. Fusing a slow beginning and ending with a breathless and energetic heart in the middle, it is a true virtuoso piece, performed excellently well by award-winning violist Timothy Ridout in his Barbican debut. With a fiery yet smooth sound he dominates the orchestra with perfect timing and a remarkable sensitivity to the finer elements of Beamish’s music.
Finally, Maxwell Davies’s An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise rounds off the concert. A thoroughly enjoyable piece, it contains an astonishingly good amount of humour and yet undeniably elicits the sounds of Scotland in a majestic whole that is just breathtaking. As the title suggests, it evokes an Orkey wedding, and indeed, everything is in good fun, with elements of dance tied together with portrayals of the Scottish countryside. In its conclusion, everything is wrapped up neatly together with the appearance of a bagpiper in full uniform. A fantastic experience all around.
Photos: BBC/Barbican: Mark Allan
For further information and future events visit the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s website here.