What better way to celebrate Christmas as Omicron the evil off spring of COVID 19 shows its fangs .Snow White has nothing on this as France slams the door in our face with unexpected Christmas cheer!But it is Canan Maxton and her faithful friend Jessie Harrington who remind us that music is the food of love …………..and it is this very spirit that pervades all they do to help young musicians spread the word with their enormous talent that music must and will overcome all.It was this selfless generosity that was underlined by all the superb players that took part in the concert in St James’s Lancaster Gate.
A heartfelt tribute to Jessie Harrington ,who shares her birthday with Beethoven,from Nicolò Foron and his Talent Unlimited Ensemble with a special encore of “Happy Birthday to you”.In A major as Jessie knowledgeably informed us!This was just the icing on a cake so lovingly prepared by Canan Maxton.A sumptuous feast of music in this beautiful church in the centre of London that gave us the chance to hear new works by two young composers both present together with a violin concerto by Mozart and a Symphony by Haydn.
The concert had opened with a world premier of the Piano Concerto for piano and strings by Elif Karlidag a beautiful young composer,conductor and pianist.
She received her early training in Bucharest but finished her Master’s degree at the Izmir Conservatoire under Istemihan Taviloglu.She has since worked with Michael Nyman and it was very much this influence that was felt in her very atmospheric piano concerto.Played by Danilo Mascetti who I had heard recently in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and was much impressed by the clarity and musicianship of his performances.It was just this clarity and sensitive artistry that was apparent in this concerto obviously greatly influenced by the slow movement of Ravel’s G major concerto.It was full of atmosphere with jewel like sounds from the piano that just floated on the sweeping waves of sound from the string orchestra.An encore dedicated with loving thanks to Canan Maxton was offered by Danilo in the form of a Cimarosa sonata .It was played with a refined musical line shining brightly over a delicate non legato accompaniment and showed off his quite considerable artistry.
What could be a better contrast ( something old something new as Semprini would say ) than an exhilarating performance of Mozart’s D major violin concerto K.218 with the youthful brother and sister team of Mira and Nicolò Foron.
It was obvious from the first sumptuous notes of Mira’s violin entry that this was a great musical personality.It does not surprise me to read that she has been mentored by Ann Sofìe Mutter and is now studying with Julia Fischer.In fact the way she moves and lives the music is the rare gift that had overwhelmed me recently with Julia Fischer and Pappano in Rome .Mira too with her brother (I assume from their flaming red hair that they are related) created the same living and breathing animal that inhabited the genial Mozart concerto with their infectious rhythmic drive and ravishing sense of phrasing and searing intensity.A very fine performance much appreciated by this slightly Omicron depleted audience!
Emre Sener’s piece for piano violin and chamber orchestra saw Danilo joined by another superb violinist Mira Marton.Emre is a Turkish born composer now studying at the Royal Academy with Rubén’s Askenar and his composition was much more jagged than Elif’s mellifluous concerto.It was a fascinating juxtaposition of mysterious sounds with much use of the instruments just brushing delicately the strings including the pianist.Chopin asks con legno in his F minor concerto but here Emre asks senza legno but almost glissare sopra.Sudden stillness too created the atmosphere that the startling rhythmic question and answer between piano,violin and orchestra immediately broke the spell in a wake up dialogue of rhythmic intensity.
Ernst’s Grand Caprice on Schubert’s Der Erlkonig op 26 was played as an encore in a hair raising transcription for solo violin that showed the superb technical wizardry of this beautiful young violinist.
Some extraordinarily exhilarating playing from the soloists with such precision and dedication that was seconded by the scrupulous attention of drawing all together in a unified whole by Nicolò Foron.I read that the conductor is principal assistant to Boulez’s extraordinary Ensemble Intercontemporain and that just goes to explain the extreme clarity and precision that Nicolò was able to obtain from his dedicated players.
An encore from Mira Marton with a performance of searing beauty of Massenet’s Thais played in a magical duo performance with Danilo where both artists reached sublime heights of ravishing beauty with their superb natural musicianship and artistry.
Last but certainly not least was a simmering performance of Haydn’s Symphony n.88 in G Hob.I/88 which was written by Haydn for the Esterhaza orchestra under the benevolent Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy. It is notably the first of his symphonies written after the completion of the six Paris symphonies in 1786.It was completed in 1787, just like his 89th symphony and is one of his best-known works, even though it is not one of the Paris or London symphonies and does not have a descriptive nickname.There was burning energy from the very first notes and the Largo was played with a great sweep to the melodic line with a surprisingly sumptuous orchestration that Nicolò conducted with great architectural shape.There was an infectious dance rhythm to the minuet with the syncopated trio a great contrast.The bucolic spirit of pure opera buffo finale was an exhilarating way to end this Christmas feast from Talent Unlimited