Music review: Les Musiciens Du Louvre Grenoble

Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Les Musiciens Du Louvre Grenoble at Usher Hall, reviewed by Susan Nickalls

Given that the excellent period instrument orchestra Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble and their founder/conductor, Marc Minkowski, specialise in a variety of repertoire, especially 19th century French music, a focus entirely on Schubert over two concerts appears somewhat excessive.

Written when he was just 16, Schubert’s Symphony No1 in D major is full of allusions to the theme Beethoven uses in his third symphony, Eroica, and ballet music The Creatures of Prometheus, along with a nod to Mozart’s Prague Symphony for good measure. While the youthful capriciousness of the finale carried it along, the rest of the work felt underwritten, particularly in the woodwind section. Likewise the Symphony No5 in B flat composed three years later in 1816. Using similar orchestral forces to Mozart’s Symphony No40 in G minor, Schubert’s string writing still outshines the horns and reduced woodwind section.

The “Unfinished” Symphony No7 in B minor is a different story altogether. At last, Schubert’s gift for intense lyricism comes together with a confident deployment of orchestral forces. Minkowski steered his talented musicians through a beautifully realised performance from barely-there pianissimos whispered by the strings to the mournful oboe melody. With such riches, who needs another two movements?

Originally published in The Scotsman

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