SCO Wind Soloists

Beethoven: Music for Winds


THE Scottish Chamber Orchestra currently boasts star players across the strings as well, but even in years when it has coped with long-standing vacancies on the front desks in those sections, its winds have always been of note. Nonetheless the line-up on this recording is particularly impressive, and of those only bassoonist Peter Whelan – increasingly in demand as a conductor as well as a soloist and leader of his Ensemble Marsyas – has departed since it was made.

Launched with a live broadcast from London’s Wigmore Hall on Monday February 12, this album ranges from Beethoven’s early Octet to the duo for Whelan and clarinettist Maximiliano Martin from the same years, but possibly not by the composer at all. The contemporary E flat Rondino is the only other work to include the oboes of Robin Williams and Rosie Staniforth with a sextet of horns, bassoons and clarinets opening and closing the disc, playing music from later in the 1790s.

All three of Scotland’s orchestras currently boast principal horn players of the first rank, but it is the SCO’s Alec Frank-Gemmill, a BBC New Generation Artist, who probably currently has the highest UK profile in broadcasts and recordings. This album is a reminder that he (and Whelan until recently) are playing in very fine company indeed at the SCO.

Keith Bruce