Although the theatre was upsettingly only half full (I would not say the orchestra outnumbered the audience, but they could certainly hold their own in a fight), the number that were present were more than up for the performance, and were rewarded in turn.
The opening numbers, from Leonard Bernstein’s ‘On The Town’, were a shining example of what contemporary classical music should aspire to. Equal parts lowkey and sombre, with brightly bouncing uplifting moments, and a wonderful interspersal of proto-jazz from the brass section, it was a joyous way to open the show. Conductor Yutaka Sado clearly relished the opportunity to lead the orchestra in this piece, throwing himself around with reckless abandon that couldn’t help to leave a smile on your face, even if you were not familiar with the music itself. However, I must admit the violinist immediately in front of him seemed slightly worried at the movement of his baton.
We were then joined by Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt (whom I had the pleasure of interviewing) for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5. Fitting in seamlessly with the already very talented orchestra, we saw a balance not always seen between soloists and ensembles. In this instance, they complemented each other perfectly, and allowed each other to shine. This being said, Hewitt did still manage to stand out with her incredibly graceful playing, and theatrical flourishes at exactly the right moments. She then played a solo piece, a beautiful few minutes that made the price of admission on its own. As appropriate, this was greeted with an ovation that greatly outmatched the relatively few members of the audience.
Following the interval, we were then treated to Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5, and it was a stunning cap to a wonderful night of classical music. I can only hope that word will spread of the beauty of an evening like this, and if Hewitt and Sado return to Edinburgh they will be faced with the full crowd they very much deserve. It was an incredible evening of classical music.