EIF music review: The Rake’s Progress
Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh International music review: The Rake’s Progress, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Carol Main.

★★★★★

Although public opinion tends to have mixed views on concert performances of operas, it is fair to say some pieces work better than others. Wednesday’s The Rake’s Progress was a superb example of transferral from theatre to concert hall that succeeded on every level.

With minimal but incredibly astute stage direction, led by conductor Sir Andrew Davis, everything combined under his unpretentious baton to result in a performance that enchanted from start to finish. With the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on stage, and an exceptional cast of soloists playing out the action, fresh perspective was inevitably thrown on to the genius of Stravinsky’s instrumental scoring. Played with a gutsy style that brought out the vividness of the Hogarth paintings which inspired it, the winds especially made the most of the sleazy scenes telling of a young man’s tragic downfall in selling his soul to the devil. As Tom Rakewell’s decline progressed, tenor Andrew Staples grew his character with deep understanding, while Gidon Saks was a splendidly flesh-creeping Nick Shadow. With first-rate precision and warmth to their youthful sound, Royal Conservatoire Voices completed a stunning highlight of this year’s EIF.

Usher Hall

Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015

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