sun 23/02/2020

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Denève, Edinburgh & Glasgow | reviews, news & interviews

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Denève, Edinburgh & Glasgow

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Denève, Edinburgh & Glasgow

The Scots orchestra's French conductor turns out precise, new-minted Berlioz

Stéphane Denève, bringing poise to Berlioz that only made it seem the strangerDrew Farrell

It's always tough sharing a programme with Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. Could a promising 21st-century composer and a dream-dance concerto of the early 1930s begin to make the kind of sounds the visionary Frenchman conjured in 1830? Not a chance, especially since Stéphane Denève, who had taken his now fizzing Scots orchestra through Berlioz's explosive masterpiece twice already during their first six seasons together, seemed this weekend to have stripped it down to the classical foundations, worked on every jolt and buffet in the symphony's electrifying string writing and managed to make it sound fresher, if not necessarily more shocking, than ever.

Please, no more programme-note burble to the effect that "like a cleansing sorbet or astringent pudding, the affect [sic] on our ears (and minds) can be ear-opening"

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