Everyday Rather Live in Classic Eras

Scottish Chamber Orchestra 40th Anniversary Edition on Naxos

It’s more usual to receive rather than give presents on your birthday – but the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has never been known for its slavish adherence to convention. The ensemble celebrates its fortieth anniversary by presenting fans with a cherry-picked disc of three standout performances from the last decade or so, each from a different conductor associated with the ensemble. As birthday treats go, it’s a knockout. The meat of the disc is a 2007 performance of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony from by the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate Charles Mackerras (1925 – 1910). His interpretation received multiple international awards when it was released, and it’s not hard to hear why. The clarity of texture is astonishing; the intimacy of the sound is captivating; and the whole performance glows with spontaneity and wit. Mackerras’s sense of youthful fizz only seemed to increase as he aged, and this account is a fine tribute to his talents. Also on the disc is a delicately austere performance of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll from current Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati. There’s none of the swoopy-swoony sentimentality which can mar this musical love-letter (Wagner wrote it as a birthday present for his wife Cosima). Instead Ticciati encourages an almost vibrato-free sound and a restrained palette of colours, and the result is a gorgeous, gleaming account. Between the other two items is Sibelius’s The Tempest: Suite No. 2 from 2003 with former Principal Conductor Joseph Swensen. The second suite contains the more intimate numbers from Sibelius’s incidental music for Shakespeare’s play – including a light-footed triple-time ‘Dance of the Nymphs’, and a touchingly fragile portrait of Miranda – and Swensen does a fine job with them.