Archive for February, 2015

Review of the ‘Sparkling Valentine’s Day Concert’ at Ely Cathedral on Saturday 14th February 2015

February 15, 2015

Warren Mailley-Smith (2)(pictured: Warren Mailley-Smith).

What a sparkling concert it was! Our home-grown pianist, Warren Mailley-Smith born in Earith, brought together a feast of romantic music for this special romantic evening. Together with The Sattler Quartet and Hannah Turnbull on double bass, as well as Susan Parkes, soprano, these fine musicians presented a very attractive programme of music.
With unerring technique, Warren made the grand piano positively sing and in the candlelight in the octagon of the Cathedral, we were transfixed. All the favourites were there and I confess that in my late teens studying piano as a major at Melbourne University, the pieces he chose were particular favourites of my repertoire and revisiting them certainly helped refresh fond romantic memories. It was a delight to hear Rachmaninov’s Prelude Op 3 no.2 in C sharp minor, Chopin’s Black Key study and his Revolutionary study played with such ease and understanding. The mood was lifted with Chopin’s ‘Military’ polonaise and the chamber version of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor Concerto’ gave us considerable more moments of romance. The strings accompanied admirably.
After our free glass of bubbly at interval, we were in the mood for more and the string players certainly added to the atmosphere with Bach’s ‘Air on a G string’, one of Beethoven’s ‘Romances’ and Brahms’s ‘Hungarian Dance .
Susan Parkes, accompanied by piano and strings, enhanced the emotional fervour of events with her delightful singing of Mozart’s ‘Cerrubino’s Aria’ from the ‘Marriage of Figaro, Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria and ‘Serenade’ and Gounod’s ‘Je veux vivre’.
The evening came to a glorious close with the charming ‘Trout Quintet’ by Schubert featuring piano and strings and the finale by these instrumentalists captured the powerful rhythmic seduction of Piazzolla’s ‘Tango’ perfectly. Wow what an evening!

review of St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Thurs 12th Feb 2015.

February 13, 2015

St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra gave an inspired performance to a packed audience in the Corn Exchange last Thursday. Under the baton of Vladimir Altschuler, this orchestra wowed the listeners and it seemed that both orchestra and audience were enjoying the experience so much that they did not want it to end. Very few concerts demand three encores, but this one certainly did.
The works performed were by Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius – all touching on that special Russian essence that stirs the emotions of all nationalities. With Sibelius, as expected, his Finnish roots readily brought to mind the spreading lakes and forests of Finland especially in the second movement of his Karelia Suite.
The solo violinist, Alexander Sitkovetsky, who had studied at the Menuhin School, was amazing and there was no doubt why he was asked to play one of the encores. His performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, op 35 was the highlight of the evening. He was undoubtedly a master of double-stops and his technique and the clarity of his playing unquestionable. No matter how challenging the music, he captured its essence perfectly, with the virtuosic passages flawless and expressive, infiltrating extra spice to his performance.
The orchestra’s contribution, playing Tchaikovsky’s ‘Fantasy Overture: Romeo and Juliet’, was exciting, and passionate, creating the intensity, drama and fervour of the lovers and their tragic lives. The orchestration was particularly colourful and varied, using the timbres of the instruments to their best advantage – it could be argued that it’s definitely the strings that can most effectively evoke great moments of passion if this work and this performance is to be an example.
Shostakovich’s ‘Hamlet (Incidental Music),’ Op.32a presented six, well-defined, character-filled movements. Its success was assured by the calibre of performance by the orchestra as a whole and by the individual instruments and groups that helped to create the variety of mood and stance.
After two delightful encores, there was no doubt that this was indeed a wonderful concert.
The next event in the Cambridge Classical Concert Series will be by the European Union Chamber Orchestra at the Corn Exchange on Thursday 5th March 2015 featuring conductor Hans-Peter Hoffman and clarinettist Emma Johnson who will be playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. The other works will be Holst’s ‘St Paul’s Suite’, ‘Two Elegiac Melodies’ by Grieg and Mozart’s ‘Symphony no. 33’. contact: