Calum's Reviews

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Concert Hall - Perth

Royal Scottish Academy/ Stevenson Winds

The quality of playing aside - and some of it was extremely high calibre - what impressed most about these young players was the fact that, clearly, they were absolutely on top of the work in hand for their important festival appearance. They were clearly at one with the repertoire: Mendelssohn Mendelssohn's Konzertstuck number 2 (in an arrangement) just flowed, with each movement seamlessly easing into the next. Max Martin's playing was as brilliant and expressive as ever, but the students shone too, none more so than the tireless Calum Robertson, who charmed and seduced every pair of ears in the house with his alluring, chocolatey playing of the basset horn, the un-trumpeted sex symbol of the woodwind family.

The winds were joined by ace trumpeter Tom Poulson for a witty suite by Jean Françaix, Le Gay Paris, before demonstrating that a breeze of woodwind isn't always comfortable. In a rarely-played Octet from 1980 by Edward McGuire, the composer showed his teeth in an animated and gritty opus, far removed from his usual style. It was serious music for a serious time (the BBC SSO was on strike).

In a superb performance of Mozart's great C minor Serenade, The Stevenson Winds, with Martin playing and directing, the quintessential character of the music was captured in a performance that began in rich, dark territory, then miraculously turned its face towards the light. Star rating: ***

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The Usher Hall - Edinburgh

The Get Organised Series

Performers: Calum Robertson (clarinets), John Kitchen (organ)

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The programme carefully stated clarinets and not the singular clarinet after Calum Robertson's name, and so it was that he started the recital with a smaller E-flat instrument for the unknown composer's Suite in C major. It is a German work and 18th century, typical of where the E-flat would have been played. Calum's dexterity and ability to pull a wide range of voices was remarkable.

High up alongside John Kitchen who was accompanying on the Usher Hall's organ, we heard Calum play Gerald Finzi's Carol. Finzi As it drew to a close there were several strikes of the bell - a speciality of the Usher Halls organ. Now down at the front of the stage, Calum warned those in the large audience who might not like Stravinsky that the Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet would last just five minutes. Composed in 1919 they started with two old gentlemen conversing, go to lively gymnasium music and finish with a quick march...