United Kingdom Dresdner Musikfestspiele 2018  – Tartini, Holst, Waxman, Wirén, Pagannini, Bottesini: LGT Young Soloists, Palais im Grossen Garten, Dresden, 12.5.2018. (MC)
Tartini – Sonata for violin & basso continuo in G minor, ‘Devil’s Trill Sonata’ (arranged for strings, Paul Struck)
Holst – St. Paul’s Suite
Waxman – Carmen Fantasy on themes from Carmen by Bizet.
Wirén – Serenade for violin and orchestra
Paganini – Moses Fantasy, variations on the theme ‘Dal tuo stellato soglio’ from Mosè in Egitto, Rossini, arranged for cello and strings
Bottesini – Grand Duo Concertante for violin, double bass and string orchestra
Giovani Sollima – Violoncelles, Vibrez! for two cellos and strings
Paganini / Michael Kugel – Il Carnevale di Venezia arranged for viola and strings
Karl Jenkins – Palladio for strings
Maxwell Davies – Farewell to Stromness, arranged for strings
If you have ever baulked at attending concerts given by student performers, then with LGT Young Soloists it’s time to think again. In the restored Sommerpalais situated in the attractive surroundings of Grossen Garten the LGT Young Soloists gave a concert of remarkable aptitude and enjoyment that left the large audience clamouring for more. Ranging from Tartini to Sollima six works were programmed plus four used in encore, music spanning almost three hundred years. Owing to a variable acoustic the Sommerpalais has not in the past been my favourite venue yet I have now warmed to it, and tonight the sound carried splendidly through the hall.
Opening the concert was soloist Christa-Maria Stangorra in baroque master Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill Sonata’ using Paul Struck’s arrangement for violin and strings. With playing of high assurance Stangorra’s large, bold and rounded sound was mightily impressive and almost overshadowed the difficulty of the work. As the performance progressed Stangorra’s minor intonation issues were soon remedied and I even detected a slight degree of showmanship an endearing and remarkable quality in such a young player. After the baroque elegance of Tartini came Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite for strings played here by the fourteen strong orchestra with the leader giving the solos confidently. If the tempo was a touch quick for me the performance felt suitably fresh and robustly windswept. Boldly played, the folk-song inspired Finale (The Dargason) that could have come from the pen of Vaughan Williams ended with a rousing flourish. Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy on themes from Bizet’s enduringly popular opera Carmen is a virtuosic showpiece for violin with orchestra. Originally written for Jascha Heifetz tonight it was Leo Esselson who took centre stage making short work of the virtuosity. Esselson was bold with those big fruity melodies which contrasted with an exquisite tenderness when needed. Providing an innate elegance, I couldn’t help noticing how perfectly in tune the earnest soloist was throughout his registers.
The Serenade for violin and orchestra is the only work that Wirén is known for today with the final section Marcia, which I remember being used as theme music to BBC’s art programme Monitor. In its element the string orchestra played with unfailing vigour and noticeable were the deep, rich sounds of cellos and bass. Next came Paganini’s Moses Fantasy which are variations on a theme from Rossini’s opera Mosè in Egitto originally a violin showpiece but heard here in an arrangement for cello and strings. Performing with technical mastery soloist Philipp Schupelius demonstrated stunning ease and uncommon expressive depth but I wonder how many people released that the cellist was playing using a single string. This was a remarkable performance. For Bottesini’s Grand Duo Concertante for violin, double bass and strings, violinist David Nebel was joined by bassist Dušan Kostić who only played on this single work. A more attractive work than one might imagine Nebel and Kostić made a fine partnership, melding together so well.
In response to loud and long applause LGT Young Soloists generously treated the audience to four substantial encores, although in truth I was left thinking that less is more. The first encore was Giovani Sollima’s Violoncelles, Vibrez! for two cellos and strings. Marvellously played by Samuel Weilacher and Oliwia Meiser the two voices intertwined with real intimacy as if evoking a love affair. Violist Anuschka Pedano was the talent soloist in Paganini’s Il Carnevale di Venezia using Michael Kugel’s arrangement for viola and strings. An agreeable piece involving plenty of pizzicato, at times I was reminded of a Vienna boat-song. The final two encore works were Karl Jenkins’s Palladio for strings and Maxwell Davies’s Farewell to Stromness arranged for strings. The enthusiasm was palpable in playing that kept its energy and generally its concentration right to the end of this lengthy programme.
The Grossen Garten audience revelled in thrilling performances of a fascinating programme of works for strings.