28 February 2018

Another 5* Review for SNJO’s Peter & the Wolf / Carnival of the Animals

Having cast transformational brilliance over Mozart’s 9th piano concerto, how would the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, directed by saxophonist Tommy Smith and guest pianist Makoto Ozone, handle these two much-loved popular classics? In the event they pulled off a double bill that combined virtuosity and ingenuity with unadulterated theatricality. Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf – Liz Lochhead’s Scots translation narrated with eye-rolling loquaciousness by Tam Dean Burn – followed the established plot (though with a contemporary closing twist) but with Smith’s arrangements bringing big-band swing as well as vivid jazz colouring to the tale.  Ozone’s piano embodied Peter, the wolf emerged via a malevolently growling trombone trio, while Tom MacNiven’s mute trumpet channelled the plaintively parping duck.

It was a delightful collision between folk tale and big-band swing with a fair dash of panto, but Ozone’s orchestration of Saint-Saëns’s “zoological fantasy” allowed soloists to really open out, with saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski pulling a soulful break out of the languorous can-can of Tortoises, clarinettist Martin Kershaw morphing potentially clichéd cuckooing into a lyrical serenade and joining fellow reedsman Paul Towndrow in an athletic Kangaroo duet. Ozone accelerated into gleeful boogie-woogie for Pianists (clearly designated a taxonomical class of their own), Fossils were re-animated with audaciously Cuban brio and that staple cello solo The Swan saw Smith’s tenor sax dialoguing with flautist Yvonne Robertson and gliding inventively, before a serious drum solo and sparring trombones brought this uniquely colourful carnival to a close.

By Jim Gilchrist for The Scotsman  *****

Published: 12:06 Tuesday 27 February 2018

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Peter & The Wolf + Carnival of Animals
Scottish National Youth Orchestra logo

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