Exploring the octets through Chamber Notes

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The UK’s leading string orchestra, the Scottish Ensemble, has announced the first half of a two-part Scottish tour called Chamber Notes.

The ensemble will perform Mendelssohn and Enescu’s stunning octets, and will be led by the outstanding Norwegian violinist Marianne Thorsen.

The first half of the tour will call near Tarbert, at Crear Studio on August 29, as well as Mull Theatre (August 31), Inverness (September 1) and Dundee (September 3), with other Scottish dates including Edinburgh and Glasgow programmed for February 2020.

Although written for just eight instruments, both of these sophisticated works have the drama, richness and depth of a full-blown symphony. They also make for an excellently contrasting pair.

From Mendelssohn’s exuberant opening bars, listerners are swept through music that is impressively complex yet captivatingly, joyously melodic throughout, whilst Enescu’s is moody, breathlessly dramatic, and, in parts, simply volcanic.

Guest directed by Marianne Thorsen – a passionate chamber musician – the Scottish Ensemble will explore the specific charm of seeing a small group of musicians performing live.

With fewer instruments, the fabric of the music becomes more tangible, subtle shifts in mood may have a new-found presence, and pieces you think you know well might offer surprising new colours when heard live.

With less musicians on stage, it’s easier to follow each individual path and witness the beautiful alchemy of eight artists creating something together.

Norwegian violinist Marianne Thorsen is an acclaimed soloist and passionate chamber musician. Former leader of the Nash Ensemble, she regularly performs with Norway’s Trondheim Soloists, one of the founding ensembles of The Bridge network and festival – a Creative Europe-supported collaboration between international ensembles, led by Scottish Ensemble and coming to Scotland next year.

Full programme: Felix Mendelssohn; String Octet in E-flat major; George Enescu; Octet for Strings in C major.