German conductor Christian Reif made his debut leading the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on December 13 2019 in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall with a performance the following day in Glasgow. Conducting a concert of Shostakovich, Mussorgsky and Sibelius featuring violinist Nicola Benedetti, Reif has received praise from critics for his impressive debut.
In a five star review from The Herald, Keith Bruce writes “Young German conductor Christian Reif has already built a formidable reputation on the west coast of America as well as across Europe, and from the way he handled the Shostakovich Festive Overture that opened the programme it was immediately clear why. He took the work at a very brisk pace, but it was a model of clarity both in his direction and the playing of the musicians, from the crisp brass at the beginning. Reif is a big chap, who conducts with the flair of a fencing instructor, and his expressive hands and quick baton were in every corner of the orchestra.”
Giving the concert four stars, The Sunday Times says “Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition demonstrated gleaming brass sound to walk us through the Promenades, and every picture was expertly delineated through to a magisterial procession in the last movement… With radiant brass fanfares, ripe strings and endlessly rippling winds, it’s hard to imagine anything better suited to cheer up an audience in the dark depths of winter.”
Ken Walton gave the concert four stars in The Scotsman adding “… it was in the closing work, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, brilliantly animated in Ravel’s polychromatic orchestration, that this partnership shone brightest. Character and virtuosity erupted emphatically within Reif’s disciplined framework.”
For Bachtrack, David Smythe writes “Making an impressive debut with the orchestra, young German conductor Christian Reif brought added excitement to a memorable concert to end the year, and indeed, decade for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.”
In 2020, Reif will conduct the Orchestre National de Lyon in two Beethoven programmes, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique, Santa Barbara Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguese in Lisbon.