Orchestral manoeuvres in the limelight

28th January 2000 at 00:00
NATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA OF SCOTLAND CD NYOS 006, pound;11.95 plus pound;1.50 pamp;p, from National Youth Orchestra of Scotland13 Somerset Place, Glasgow G3 7JT, tel: 0141 332 8311

This is the third CD produced by the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, assembled from recordings made over the last three seasons from 1997 to 1999.

Not only are there three conductors but effectively three orchestras as well, given the high annual turnover of players.

This CD is a fine monument to the achievements of NYOS year on year, but musically it is a bit of a lucky dip, rather more like a scrapbook of past glories rather than a properly pre-conceived programme.

As scrapbooks go, however, it is pretty impressive. It includes the two suites from Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe, music that I heard live at the NYOS concert last August, a few days after the recording. The live performance of this demanding score was pretty good, but the recording is better. There is in this version a much greater boldness and articulation in th woodwind section and the strings sound altogether more robust.

The Prelude to Die Meistersinger is also better than the live performance, which was rather lacking in spirit.

Apart from a terrible lapse of intonation from the brass half way through, the recording has a lustre that many a professional orchestra would be proud of.

The youth orchestra's latest disc also includes The Perfect Fool by Holst, in a performance from 1997 with Bramwell Tovey conducting, and the premiere recording of a work by Rory Boyle, which was commisioned by the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in 1995. Capriccio starts awkwardly, as though in mid-sentence, but rapidly builds in stature into a noisy, playful celebration with moments of dignified melody surrounded by a whirlwind of orchestral colour.

Recorded in Watford, of all places, this climactic and moving performance under Junichi Hirokami dates from 1998.

The ensemble sounded more polished a year later, but it makes highly enjoyable listening.

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