Garry Walker: Conductor

Gina McCormack: Guest violin soloist

It’s nice to welcome a visiting orchestra to Dundee but the enjoyment escalates when it’s the calibre of the Aberdeen Sinfonietta, writes Garry Fraser. Semi peripatetic while their ‘home’ – Aberdeen’s Music Hall – is being refurbished, they’re taking their talents on tour, and with the Caird Hall being their chosen venue this weekend, I only wish they had been welcomed by a larger audience. Hopefully, if there is a next time, word will spread that this is an orchestra not to be missed.

Their programme on Sunday was just perfect, the old overture-concerto-symphony formula that was augmented in no small way with John McLeod’s Hebridean Dances. Here McLeod showed that a contemporary take on traditional melodies need not rely on heavy atonal orchestration to achieve any effect.

But to the o-c-s syndrome. This worked absolutely superbly with Rossini’s overture to the Barber of Seville providing the ideal curtain-raiser, and with every one of the orchestra keen to show their excellent credentials. These credentials became more and more apparent as the concert wore on, culminating in a quite marvellous performance of Dvorak’s 8th Symphony in which many superlatives fall short. It was the sort of performance any world-renowned orchestra would have been proud of.

As to the concerto, this was also straight out of the top drawer. I’ve heard violinist Gina McCormack in chamber music mode, but in this concerto role she was positively outstanding. Bruch’s G minor concerto is well-known but I felt she gave it a freshness with a performance that was assured and assertive. The Adagio was pure heaven and the following finale, chalk to its cheese was boisterous, effervescent and a total joy.

Garry Fraser

Dundee Courier 30 th May 2017