Review: Virtuosi Of Stratford, at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Aug 13 2010 By Maggie Cotton
After a week of intensive workshops and study, talented young string players arrived at Monday’s challenging concluding public performance in Stratford’s magnificent parish church.
Founded by internationally acclaimed violinist and teacher Rimma Sushanskaya, this is the ninth inspirational Bach and Paganini Festival for outstanding string students, highlighting virtuoso properties from a wide range of composers.
Time was of essence as unfamiliar music was studied and absorbed with input – one to one and in focussed groups – led and motivated by four international teachers freshly presenting steep learning curves.
Sushanskaya conducted a most interesting programme, beginning with a curiosity from the pen of Rossini at the age of 12, after which her strong, clear direction was certainly necessary for Arnold’s challenging Concerto for Two violins and Strings, most ably fronted by talented Joo Yeon Sir and Dominika Feher.
A slightly worrying imbalance with 15 violins was quickly dismissed as lovely solos were also delivered from a single cello and bass.
Tricky contrapuntal passages for the soloists eventually settled down and were most convincing in their delivery.
Leader John Garner’s riveting solo performance of the world premiere of Robert Matthew–Walker’s Fantasia Malincolica, highlighted a fascinating accessible work covering a vast array of techniques; immaculate intonation, gutsy rhythms, full rich drama to airy trills and confident double-stopping.
Truly musical throughout.
Back on familiar ground with Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.
Perhaps this was the first performance for some of the participants?
A bemusing thought – we all have to experience a ‘first’, and what better place than in this lovely historic venue.
Finally a dry quirky Stravinsky short encore, after which myriads of thanks to all involved, rounding off an inspiring week.