Music in Sardinia – Festival of Burning Intensity and joyous music making for Santu Lussurgiu

Some amazing music making as you can see below from this summers’ festival in Santu Lussurgiu in Sardinia.

A superb performance of Schumann’s Sonata n.1 in Aminor op 105 with Gordan Nikolitch and Linn Rothstein

It was written in a week  in September 1851 and Schumann was not pleased with it saying:”I did not like the first Sonata for Violin and Piano; so I wrote a second one which I hope has turned out better”. It was given its official premiere by  Clara Schumann and Ferdinand David in March 1852.It has since become together with the Cesar Franck Sonata one of the most loved of the romantic repertoire for violin and piano.

The passionate first movement was played with a great sense of balance the piano answering the violin deep in the bass and later a touching question and answer from the piano to the violin.The innocent capriciousness of the second movement where Schumann’s duel personality of Florestan and Eusebius were playfully realised in a true refreshing Allegretto  tempo with some magical pedal effects from the piano at the end.The last movement almost Beethovenian in character  with the violin and piano seemingly chasing each other  until coming together in great passionate outbursts of rhythmic energy and strength.


Gordan Nikolitch, also spelled Gordan Nikolić,(Serbian: Гордан Николић; born 1968) is a Franco-Serbian violinist. He was the first concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra for nearly 20 years, having stepped down in October 2017 to concentrate on directing and teaching.Born in a music loving family Gordan Nikolitch began playing the violin when he was seven. He studied at the Conservatory  in Basel with .Jean-Jaques Kantarow He also met and worked with Walter Levin, Wytold Lutoslavsky, György Kurtág, Hans Werner Henze etc, cultivating an interest in contemporary music.As a violinist, he participated and was awarded in many competitions, the Tibor Varga competition, Paganini competition at Genoa, Brescia and Vaclav Hummel competition Zagreb. In 1989, he became concertmaster of Orchestra d’Auvergne post he held until 1999.Nikolitch has been as well the leader of the Orchestra de Chambre de Lausanne and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Prince consort professor at the Royal College of Music in London, giving masterclasses at the Guildhall  School of Music and Drama, he also teaches Master since 2005 at the CODARTS, Rotterdam Conservatory of Music  and since 2017 he is Professor at the Hochschule für Musik Saarbrücken.In 2004 he was named artistic director of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Amsterdam, a group created in the 50es by Szymon Goldberg, the great concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic from the times of their conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler.

And another  superb performance this time  of  the Cesar Franck Sonata for violin and piano with Roman Simovic and Linn Rothstein enhanced by the page turning of Vitaly Pisarenko.

Sometimes known in the profession  as the Frank Sinatra ! It is  one of Franck’s best-known compositions, and is considered one of the finest sonatas for violin and piano ever written. It is an amalgam of his rich native harmonic language with the Classical traditions he valued highly, held together in a cyclic framework.It  was written in 1886  as a wedding present for the 28-year-old violinist Eugène Ysaye. Franck was not present when Ysaÿe married, but on the morning of the wedding, on 26 September 1886 in  Arlon, their mutual friend  Charles Bordes presented the work as Franck’s gift to Ysaÿe and his bride Louise Bourdeau de Courtrai. After a hurried rehearsal, Ysaÿe and Bordes’ sister-in-law  played the Sonata to the other wedding guests .The work  is notable for the difficulty of its piano part, when compared with most of the chamber repertoire. Its technical problems include frequent extreme extended figures—the composer himself having possessed huge hands—and virtuoso runs and leaps, particularly in the second movement. 

From the very first notes of Roman’s entry it was obvious that there was magic in the air.A freedom and playing of such burning intensity.The serene opening of the magical opening notes from the piano  were immediately answered by the magnificent creamy rich sounds from the violin.A forward movement that gave great architectural shape and sense of drive.The technical brilliance in the second movement was breathtaking in its audacity and sensitivity to sound from the glorious rich sonorities of the piano melting into the most delicate jewel like sounds glistening in this wondrous sound world that they had created together.The passionate outbursts were breathtaking in their intensity and its effect  was amply demonstrated by the spontaneous applause  and cat calls after the second movement from a public mesmerised by such glorious sounds. The same reaction as a home goal on the football pitch except much less frequent in the concert hall!

There followed the recitativo of great stillness and beauty mingling with whispered confessions from the violin as the golden notes from the piano penetrated the soul of the work concluding with the wondrous final chords .There was a  simplicity and joy on Roman’s face as he allowed the last movement to almost play itself with such natural  lyricism before the pulsating excitement generated by the left hand of the piano leading to the exultant final passionate outpourings.

Only one word to describe a performance of this calibre :”Glorious”


Roman Simovic’s brilliant virtuosity and seemingly-inborn musicality, fueled by a limitless imagination, has taken him throughout all continents performing on many of world’s leading stages including the Bolshoi Hall of the Tchaikovsky conservatory, Mariinsky hall in St. Petersburg, Grand Opera House in Tel-Aviv, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Rudolfinum Hall in Prague, Barbican Hall in London, Art Centre in Seoul, Grieg Hall in Bergen, Rachmaninov Hall in Moscow… Roman Simovic has been awarded prizes at numerous international competitions among which are:”Premio Rodolfo Lipizer” (Italy), SionValais (Switzerland), Yampolsky Violin Competition (Russia) and the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition (Poland), placing him among the foremost violinists of his generationAs soloist, Simovic has appeared with the world leading orchestras: London Symphony orchestra, Mariinsky theatre symphony orchestra, Teatro Regio Torino, Symphony Nova Scotia (Canada), Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra (Hungary), Camerata Bern (Switzerland), Camerata Salzburg (Austria), CRR Chamber Orchestra (Turkey), Poznan Philharmonia, Prague Philharmonia, North Brabant (Holland)…with such a conductors like: Valery Gergiev, Antonio Pappano, Daniel Harding, Gianandrea Noseda, Kristian Jarvi, Jiri Belohlavek, Pablo Heras Casado, Nikolai Znaider… A sought-after artist, Roman Simovic has been invited and continues to perform at various distinguished festivals such as the “Verbier Festival”, ” White Nighsts” Festival St. Petersburg, Easter Festival Valery Gergiev Moscow, Dubrovnik Summer Festival in Croatia, “Kotor Art” Montenegro, the BEMUS and NOMUS Festivals in Serbia, “Sion Valais” Switzerland, Norway’s Bergen Festival, “Moscow Winter” Festival in Russia, Portogruaro Festival in Italy, “Granada music festival” in Spain, collaborating  with such  renowned artists as Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang, Gautie Capucon, Tabea Zimermann, Misha Maisky, Schlomo Mintz, Francois Leleux, Itamar Golan, Simon Trpceski, Janine Jansen, Julian Rachlin…  Aside from being an active soloist,  Roman Simovic is an avid chamber musician, and is a founding member of the distinguished Rubikon String Quartet. As an educator, he has presenter master-classes in the US, UK, South Korea, Serbia, Montenegro, Israel. Roman Simovic plays a 1709 Antonio Stradivari violin which was generously given to him on loan from Jonathan Moulds, Bank of America’s president. In the 15/16 season Roman Simovis is relising two cd’s directing LSO string orchestra for the LSO label and Tchaikovsky and Glazunov concertos with Gergiev and Mariinsky orchestra for Mariinsky label.Mr Simovic is serving as a leader of the great London Symphony

Linn Rothstein is far too modest to have a  published curriculum .She came to England in 1970 to study with John Lill and Peter Katin having  been trained in Canada by her mother and Robin Wood.After her first appearances in Dartington and elsewhere  aged 20 she was immediately helped by Andre Tchaikowsky,Hans Keller and John Amis who introduced her to the agents Harrison Parrot.But her heart was with chamber music  and infact she lost her heart to the violin and a violinist in particular  and became with her husband Jack Rothstein an important part of the music life in London. Jack Rothstein (15 December 1925 – 16 November 2001) was a Polish-born violinist and conductor, living most of his life in  England.He  was born in  Warsaw , and moved to  Israel with his family at the age of two. Later on, he was sent to live with his aunt in Cairo  and attended a French school where  he also started his music studies.During World War II he joined the British Army as a musician and performed in the Middle and Far East. Following the war, he  settled in London and  married Linn Hendry.He studied at the  Guildhall School of Music in the early 1950s, and took part in  masterclasses  by Sascha Lasserson, Leonid Kogan, Felix van Dyl and Henryk Szeryng. In the 1954 Carl Flesh Competition he  won the second prize.Throughout his professional career he also performed as a soloist, playing most of the well-known violin concertos with leading orchestras and giving solo recitals, appearing at the  Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican on various occasions.


Here is a recent concert that Milena Simovic and Vitaly Pisarenko gave at Hatchlands for the Cobbe Collection Trust – only snippets  for reasons beyong my control remain of their performances together in Sardinia .

Here is part of the group who spend their summers sharing their music with the lucky inhabitants of a little town in the hills of Sardinia together with Gordan Nikolitch and Celine Flamen.

Roman and Milena  Simovic- Vitaly Pisarenko and Linn Rothstein in rehearsal here in London


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