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Musical World

Robin Ticciati

  • Conductor


Robin Ticciati press reviews

Two concerts in Scotland suggest that its orchestral scene is in very good health.

"By the end the character of that slight tousled-hair figure on the podium was starting to emerge. Ticciati is alert to subtle shades of tone and meaning; he likes twilight and moments of doubt, but he can also galvanise a phrase with sudden energy. They were useful assets in the songs from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn (sung by Magdalena Kozena, who registered the tender moments with great beauty). Best of all was Brahms’s Second Symphony, which had a lovely swaying lilt and an unusual transparency to the sound, but also a veiled melancholy which here and there became real distress. I’ve rarely heard the emotional ambiguity of the piece so well captured."

Ivan Hewett, Telegraph, 15 Dec 2009

Henze, Mahler, Brahms: Magdalena Kožená (mezzo), Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Robin Ticciati (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 12.12.2009 (SRT)

"This evening was perhaps the most important in Edinburgh’s musical calendar this year and should mark the start of an exciting new period for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, for tonight saw the debut of Robin Ticciati as the orchestra’s new Principal Conductor. Ticciati comes with a high pedigree, including a distinguished period in the National Youth Orchestra, successful debuts at Covent Garden and Salzburg and powerful mentors like Colin Davis and Simon Rattle. Indeed it is to Rattle that he has most often been compared with his youth (26 this year), energy and the fact that his name seems to be on everyone’s lips – the word “Wunderkind” has been associated with him more than once. His good looks have made him the poster-boy (literally: his face is on bus shelters all over Edinburgh!) for this year’s SCO season. He first conducted the SCO in July 2008 but it must have been love at first sight because this is a remarkably quick appointment by the standards of most performing arts organisations. Arguably they have taken a gamble by choosing such a young Principal Conductor, but equally it is something of a coup to secure someone with such popularity and promise. So, on the basis of his debut alone, has the hype been worth it?

In a word, yes. Ticciati’s ambition and range are clear from his choice of a debut programme: Brahms, Mahler and Henze. However, the sheer sense of energy and expectation in the Usher Hall for this concert was palpable and both orchestra and conductor rode it like a wave rather than being swamped by it. The most striking thing about Ticciati’s conducting style is his ear for transparency. Be it the dark brown textures of the Brahms or the spiky world of Henze, he laid bare every aspect of the music with a real sense of space. Henze’s First symphony was made to sound chamber-like and airy, with every strain audible from the perpetual motion in the strings to the many solos, especially the gorgeous viola of Jane Atkins. Meanwhile Brahms’ Second symphony, which in the wrong hands can sound heavy and thick, felt animated and pacy throughout, from the lilt of the opening theme to the fleet-footed rhythms of the finale. There was poise and lightness as the first movement unfolded but still power in the tuttis, and he coaxed gorgeous string playing for the second subject, as for the broad sweep of Adagio with its pleasing sense of ebb and flow. The finale crackled with exuberance without losing its sense of organic growth, and the adrenaline rush of the final pages was really exhilarating. What impressed me most was his ability to build a Brahmsian line, be it the masterful transition to the exposition repeat in the first movement or the cheeky pause which lightened the texture of the third. Importantly, though, he never lost the sense of space in between the notes: this Brahms was graceful, light and radiant.

It was another coup for the orchestra to secure Magdalena Kožená as the soloist to share his debut – the Rattle connection, perhaps?! This always interesting mezzo brought her own unique brand of artistry to a selection from Mahler’s every-young Wunderhorn cycle. The lower register of her voice was less clear, but the middle and top are rich and full and, importantly, she tapped into the humour of Verlorne Müh and Lob des hohen Verstands. She also knew the tragedy of Das Irdische Leben, her singing becoming increasingly strident and urgent as the child gets hungrier. Rightly, however, it was Ticciati’s contribution that was the most individual. There was a lovely lilt to the string figure at the opening of both Rheinlegendchen and Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?, while the nasty string accompaniment to Das Irdische Leben caught the mood perfectly. The finest song of the cycle, however, was Wo die Schönen Trompeten blasen. The opening fanfares were laden with poignancy and both conductor and singer conjured a half-lit, melancholy sound world which contrasted dramatically with the songs on either side.

As for the man himself, he conducts with gestures that are direct and clear without ever being showy and any time I caught a glimpse of his face it wore a broad smile. It was well merited and should justifiably be shared by every member of the orchestra and their supporting team. This was a most auspicious debut and bodes very well for an exciting future."

Ticciati conducts three more concerts this season. For full details go to


SCO/Ticciati, Edinburgh

" In spite of the bulked-up strings and the considerable quantities of extra brass, delicacy and beautifully balanced textural clarity were consistently impressive characteristics of the performance.

Earlier in the concert, Ticciati demonstrated his attention to detail with the gossamer colours of Henze's First Symphony and showed himself to be a sympathetic accompanist for Magdalena Kožená"

Guardian, Rowena Smith, Monday 14 December 2009

Jenufa at Glyndebourne

"This is Janácek without the intrusion of concept, without the obsession of image, without any agenda other than that of propelling the audience into the heart of the opera’s pain and compassion. The dark silhouetted mountains, the sickly green light in the teal-blue room, the blinding morning light of a wedding in which the bride wears black — all this is brought to life in a visceral account of the score from young Robin Ticciati. It’s his last season with Glyndebourne on Tour, and his first Jenufa. And he is clearly immensely excited by the muscular momentum and the tense, troubling detail of Janácek’s music.

And so are we. With the red timber, the intense blue of the interiors and the oppressive weight of the judgmental generations of family and community, this is a Strindbergian world we inhabit, with characters living on the edge. At first Giselle Allen, making her house debut as Jenufa, seems just too fragile. But, thrillingly, we watch her grow, slowly and compellingly, in vocal and inner strength, to find a spiritual energy for her final forgiveness."

The Times, November 4, 2009, Hilary Finch

Janacek Jenufa, Glyndebourne On Tour

"And the main protagonist, Janacek's orchestra, harnessed by Robin Ticciati with such precision and awareness and sensitivity as to have every nerve-end jangling. If you can get to Woking, Stoke-on-Trent, Norwich, Milton Keynes, or Plymouth, then you've a chance to catch one of the operatic performances of the year. "

Independent, October 29, 2009, by Edward Seckerson, 5 stars

"Samstagmittag live im Mozarteum, Sonntag in der Ö1-Übertragung, und man durfte sich sicher sein: Diese Interpretation der g-Moll-Symphonie, KV 550, von Mozart durch den erst 26-jährigen Robin Ticciati in der Matinee des Mozarteum Orchesters ist ein kleines Juwel dieses Sommers.
Festmachen lässt sich Ticciatis überlegte, im handwerklichen Taktieren musikantisch locker gelöste Arbeit am hellhörigen Mischen von Bläser- und Streicherfarben, an der bestechend kreativen Fantasie, daran, bei Wiederholungen (zweiter Teil des Schlusssatzes) viele kleine, aber präzis artikulierte neue Akzente zu setzen, die kontrapunktische Feinarbeit, die sonst oft überspielt wird, hörbar zu machen und so in den Fluss der Gedanken zu integrieren, dass eine aufregende Neubelichtung der Form stattfindet: alte Muster in neuem Kleid.Ein Vorklang zu SchubertImmer pulst in dieser fast wie ein Vorklang zu Schubert wirkenden Musik ein frischer, in Kleinigkeiten überraschend aufblitzender, geschliffen intelligenter Dialog, ein Pingpong subtiler Ideen, ohne daraus ein oberflächliches „dramatisches“ Geschehen zu machen. Fabelhaft, wie Ticciati das ohne jeden Krampf auszutarieren versteht."

Salzburg Nactrichten, Karl Harb, 24th August 2009

"Sunday afternoon came the festival's most significant debut of the summer. In his first appearance in the United States, London conductor Robin Ticciati, at 26, drew the kind of deep interpretive ideas from Mozart that few know how to mine. That he did it with an established orchestra with a strong personality, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,
is all the more significant an indication that orchestra whisperers who have been touting Ticciati as one of the three or four major young podium talents are indeed right. "