Written by Kate Molleson
Published on Thursday 16 June 2016
The immediate thing I noticed about this recording, and which I kept noticing all the way through, is how broad, expansive, lush and generally huge the Scottish Ensemble sounds. Most of the time it performs with two cellos and a double bass (though it bulked up a bit for this album) and has always made a thing of playing standing up for a chamber-music kind of nimbleness. But the SE house style is also all about muscular attack, and that comes through in director Jonathan Morton’s charged and opulent arrangement of Debussy’s String Quartet. I miss the fragility and elusive shimmer of the original, whereas Colin Matthews’s arrangement of Debussy’s piano prelude The Girl with the Flaxen Hair is wonderfully hazy, subtle and indirect. Three short Takemitsu works complete the album, including his gushing 1980s Tarkovsky tribute Nostalghia – the word means a specifically Russian sort of homesickness – with Morton as rapt and eloquent soloist.