2 pianos, 3 harps, full percussion section, big brass and woodwind – bold orchestra presence on stage just judging by the arrangements on stage even before the concert started…

The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland started the programme with the world premiere of Helen Grime’s Two Eardley Pictures – 2: Snow. The painting who served as an inspiration were depicting Scottish landscapes. Sure enough some of the orchestra members were able to draw from their memories of Scottish Winters. The music was very expressive and made you want to reach for your winter coat in the heights of summer.

The second piece of the afternoon was Tchaikovsky’s rarely performed 2nd Piano Concerto in G Major. The soloist, Pavel Kolesnikov, barely any older than most of the orchestra members just added the icing on this spectacular concert. Rhythmically  a very challenging piece the orchestra was absolutely spot on. Ilan Volkov, a conductor totally unknown to me, was so clear with his conducting which was quite critical for a piece this extraordinary. The communication between conductor, orchestra and pianist was so great to watch – it felt like they were all one.

After the interval it was Stravinsky’s The Firebird closing the programme. Even though I am familiar with the piece this was the first time that I heard the whole thing in a live performance. As mentioned in previous posts, I am very fond of Russian composers – I just love the depth and intensity they bring to their music. Towards the end of the piece all hairs on my arms and neck were standing up and I had to keep on blinking to not get overwhelmed with emotions – wow!

The energy and precision of such a young orchestra was energetic and mesmerising… with full forces on stage, huge brass and woodwind section the playing was just exquisite! Some youth orchestras can be a little washed out as there are so many musicians on stage – but not with the Scots! The boys were wearing Tartan ties and the girls had a little tartan flower either in their hair or on their shirts – really sweet little touch!

A lot of parents and grandparents were in the audience but sadly the audience as a whole were not overly behaved today – clapping between movements during the piano concert and a lot of coughing and dropping things going on… I know that on the clapping one could write discussions on it, but with this particular concert it did disrupt a little….

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