Music review: Tonhalle Orchestra

Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Tonhalle Orchestra at the Usher Hall, reviewed by Susan Nickalls

The Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and their conductor David Zinman are a class act with their crisp phrasing, warmth of tone and remarkable precision. Frank Peter Zimmermann also has these qualities in spades, and together with the orchestra delivered a rapturous account of Brahms’ Violin Concerto.

It is the lushness of the strings that provide the backdrop to this concerto with added colour from the woodwind, particularly the elegant oboe solos in the slow movement. Sparks were flying in the finale, with Zimmermann relishing the swerving gypsy rhythms. There were echoes of this ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ beat in his encore, a virtuosic performance of the preludio from Bach’s Violin Partita No.3 in E major.

Bruckner takes a long time to get to the point. His symphonies are lengthy – mostly around or over the hour mark – and he was prone to constantly revising his work, none more so than his Symphony No.3 in D minor. The Tonhalle played the 1889 version here. While there are none of the juicy themes that run through some of Bruckner’s other works, his expansive soundworld, superbly articulated by Zinman and the orchestra, nevertheless takes the listener on a fascinating and compelling journey.

MORE INFO: Tonhalle Orchestra Brahms Requiem

Originally published in The Scotsman

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