A month today at the Snape Proms… The Scottish Ensemble: Commonwealth Strings

Scottish EnsembleThis is a great idea from north of the border – one of Britain’s finest ensembles teaming up with brilliant young professionals from around the Commonwealth, surfing the tide of goodwill and energy that already seems to have been generated by the Glasgow Games to form a classical supergroup. (Actually, on a smaller scale it’s a bit like our own Aldeburgh World Orchestra, that unforgettable gigantic band formed for the London Olympiad two years ago).

But it’s the prospect of a fine performance of THIS that has me really salivating at this concert:

Vaughan-Williams’ Tallis Fantasia (which opens the programme) may be much beloved of castaways and Classic FM listeners (and absolutely NOTHING wrong with that – it’s a wonderful piece of music). But this brilliant Elgar showpiece captures the spirit of youth, compositional dexterity to rival any of the great European composers of the early twentieth century – and some damn great tunes to boot. And what a performance this is. I know it’s a bit like cheerleading for the home team, but Britten the conductor (some say he was unmoved by and indifferent to Elgar’s music – you’d never suspect it) somehow coaxes such lovingly caressing phrasing, elasticity and rumbustious high spirits from the English Chamber Orchestra. Ah…this is close to making it to MY desert island…and in the hands and bowing arms of the unconducted, superversatile Scottish Ensemble and their young cohorts it should be really special…

And if all that weren’t enough, there’s Elgar’s exquisite modest Serenade as well, and the atmospheric music of Peter Sculthorpe, and Tippett’s inexplicably overlooked Concerto for two string orchestras, buoyant, radiant music of verve and vitality.

Now really, it’s a brilliant idea…

The Scottish Ensemble play at the Snape Proms on August 30.

Snape Proms