The Opening Concert of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival featured Haydn’s Symphony No 94 in G major – ‘The Surprise’ – and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 2 Lobgesang Op 52.
Pablo Heras-Casado is a young, very vigorous conductor, whose confidence and accuracy brought out the best in the players and singers. He was born in Granada and is currently Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St Luke’s in New York, as well as Principal Guest Conductor of the Teatro Real Madrid.
The opening rendition of Joseph Haydn’s ‘Surprise Symphony’ set the bar high for the evening. It was performed with great assurance vigour by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and was Â spell-binding.
Mendelssohn’s L Lobgesan Op 52, his second symphony, brought together not only assured playing of the orchestra but also soloists sopranos, Emma Bell and Dorothea Roschmann, with tenor, Werner Gura. The capacity audience was then treated to beautiful melodic singing by the soloists and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, under Choir Master Christopher Bell, as well as the added treat of accompaniment on the renowned Usher Hall organ provided by Stuart Hope.
The performance was sung in German with English surtitles. Embracing a number of Psalms for example 33, 145, 107, 56, 40 and other Biblical extracts the assured singing held the audience entranced and most appreciative.
It’s very fitting that the Opening Concert in this 70th anniversary year of the Festival should repeat the first work – Haydn’s Symphony 4 – which began the 1947 concert at the first Edinburgh International Festival.