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Written by Michael Tumelty
Published on Sunday 15 February 2015

HERE’S an imperative for CD collectors and fans of the Scottish Ensemble.

Released tomorrow is the orchestra’s first recording on Linn Records in a decade. It is a stonker, with a characteristically big-boned, confident and (under the consummately authoritative leadership of Jonathan Morton) compelling performance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade For Strings, the greatest of all classics for string orchestra. It’s a piece where ensembles often engage in some wallowing, which can be lovely. That’s not what you get here, where Morton’s basic tempo is swift and forward-moving, bringing a tremendous drive to the piece. There is a fabulous lilt to the Waltz, great intensity and beauty in the Elegy, an exhilaration in the whirlwind Finale, and a splendid mix of detail and sweep in the natural resonance of the recording venue, the Caird Hall. There is also a powerhouse performance of Morton’s ‘bigged-up’ version of Shostakovich’s Second String Quartet, which deserves a wee essay elsewhere. Good timing for their City Hall concert on February 24.

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