Music review: Hebrides Ensemble and Thomas Bloch
Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: The Hebrides Ensemble and Thomas Bloch at the Queen’s Hall, reviewed by Susan Nickalls
One can see why Mozart was so enthralled by the glass harmonica – a series of rotating crystal bowls played somewhat like a piano, but with wet fingers. The ethereal sounds were beautifully produced by Thomas Bloch in Mozart’s Adagio in C major for glass harmonica.
In the Adagio and Rondo Mozart adds a flute, oboe, viola and cello, but strips down the accompaniment to maximise the glow and shimmer from the instrument.
Scored for the same forces plus oboe and violin, Lyell Cresswell’s arrangement of Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor – originally written for the mechanical organ – was sensitive to the quietness of the glass harmonica, even if the players were often not.
The Hebrides Ensemble are undoubtedly Scotland’s most adventurous chamber ensemble, rising with aplomb here to the challenges of George Crumb’s exquisite composition, Four Nocturnes (Night Music II) for piano and violin and Vox Balaenae, which recreates whale song throughout the whole of time.
Donning black masks with tiny eyeholes, the flautist, pianist and cellist evoked a beguiling soundscape using a variety of techniques, the flautist humming and playing simultaneously to eerie string harmonics and the white-gloved pianist, strumming, plucking and striking the piano inside and out.
Originally published in The Scotsman