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Søndergård conducts Rachmaninoff No2

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

An evening of moving symphonies at Aberdeen’s Music Hall

By Anttoni James Numminen

photo courtesy of the author

The pandemic denied us many things, among those of course the opportunity to take part in live performances of music, comedy, and theatre.

So, it was particularly nice to end that forced abstinence with a rendition of one of my favourite Russian composers, the great Sergei Rachmaninoff. The concert, conducted by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s very own Thomas Søndergård, took place at the Aberdeen Music Hall, and I was admittedly impressed by the venue. Though not particularly inspiring in size, especially compared to many European concert halls, the acoustics did justice to the musicians and the music.

The performance itself started off with Carlijn Metselaar’s 'Into the Living Mountain' which was inspired by the works of Aberdeenshire writer, Nan Shepherd, and it gently eased us into the mood of the evening with its playful and creative notes.

This was followed by a decent performance of Shostakovich’s 'Cello Concerto No1' by the Belarusian Aleksei Kiseliov, who is described as one of the foremost cellists of his generation. It provided a pleasant juxtaposition to the previous piece, with the accompaniment giving the attentive listener a chance to take in and enjoy how various instruments were used while others were not.

photo courtesy of the author

Up until this point, my mind had been wondering somewhat. I was enjoying the overall experience of being back in a concert hall and wondering whether the lady in front of me was sleeping or just resting her head on the neighbouring man’s shoulder and breathing loudly.

But then we started again, and Søndergård did what he does best, conducting the orchestra with a passion. I’ve always considered Rachmaninoff to be a deeply moving composer, and I was not disappointed this time either.

Both deeply moving and romantic, the melodious music was pleasing to the ear as well as being intellectually stimulating for the mind, and the whole of 'Symphony No2' was performed with as much gusto and passion as it was received with by the audience and anyone else who might have been fortunate enough to be in earshot.

Overall, it was a very pleasant evening and I hope to see the RSNO and Søndergård return to Aberdeen, perhaps next time with the same composer’s 'Piano Concerto No.2'.

A word of thanks to Aberdeen Performing Arts and the University of Aberdeen Development Trust for making this review possible.


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