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Royal Scottish National Orchestra concert worth the wait

03.15.17
Peter Oundjian
Palm Beach Daily News

Three romantic composers with very different styles and techniques were heard Tuesday in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra program at the Kravis Center.
 
Led by Peter Oundjian, whose energetic style was seen last season when he led the Toronto Symphony, the centenary ensemble started the evening with Aleksandr Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor.
 
A chemist by day, Borodin belonged to the “Mighty Five,” the Russian group of composers who aimed at finding their national voice through the use of Slavic idioms. As a consequence, composers veered away from two main principles of western music: form (which they viewed as too Germanic) and melody (which they considered Italianate). They emphasized, instead, orchestral color as a structural element.
 
While the first results — as heard on Borodin’s Prince Igor — were tentative at best, the group of amateur composers paved the way for the great 20th century works by Russians such as Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich.
 
The Royal Scottish Orchestra gave an energetic reading of the overture, even though there were some balance problems. Woodwinds were some times drowned by the expressive and overpowering string section.
Fortunately, balance was not an issue in the next selection, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms.
 
Joined by stunning violinist Nicola Benedetti, the Royal Scottish Orchestra gave an authoritative reading. Benedetti’s muscular tone and solid technique were impressive, and the musical rapport between her and Oundjian was obvious throughout the performance.
 
Once again, Oundjian and his group delivered the goods with a performance that sounded more intimate than most. The pianissimi in the first movement were particularly impressive, and the orchestra sounded appropriately powerful at the climaxes.
 
A rousing standing ovation led to a well-humored rendition of the Scottish traditional country dance Eightsome Reel.
 
Read the rest of the review here