M&G Concert at the Civic Theatre
First time at the Civic for the Philharmonia, in a wonderful programme which introduced Chelmsford music-lovers to the amazing Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay, the Phil's dynamic young concert-master.
He brought with him two helpings of Mozart. The Divertimento for Strings, with the solemn Andante shifted to middle movement, framed by the energetic, expressive Allegros. And, with the addition of one or two winds, the 17th Symphony, written when the young Amadeus was just sixteen. A lively tempo, and a great rhythmic pulse in the Andante.
JS Bach's Violin Concerto, with Visontay as the soloist, was a revelation. A performance of warmth and charm, seeming to share the joy of discovery with the audience, bringing a real freshness to these familiar notes.
Strauss's Metamorphosen - “a Study for 23 Solo Strings” - was superbly interpreted. The theatre's dry acoustic meant that each of the threads in this rich tapestry of sound was distinctly audible, but able to blend into the flowing harmonic shifts and poignant melodies. And a beautifully controlled dying breath at the end. A truly memorable half hour of glorious music, with Visontay leading by example in superb ensemble playing.
Here, for interest, is the very different septet version, from the Hampstead Festival in 2013, with Visontay leading, and on cello, Guy Johnston, who will be playing the Haydn Concerto in the last M&G of this season, on May 3.