On Saturday 23 October in the 2nd concert of the 35th Shropshire Music Trust series, St Alkmund's Church, Shrewsbury hosted the London Mozart Players together with cello soloist Jamal Aliyev in a pan-European programme of classical greats for string orchestra.
Grieg's Holberg Suite - a tribute to an adopted Danish author by the grandson of a noble Scot - is a masterpiece for strings in the classical style and the LMP rose to the occasion with restrained passion and purity of tone while still expressing the baroque-style emotion of the slow movements. The interplay of the lead violin and cello solos was particularly notable.
Award-winning cellist Jamal Aliyev from Azerbaijan next presented a stunning performance of Haydn's Cello Concerto which since its discovery in 1961 has become an established virtuoso work. With the LMP under leader Ruth Rogers matching style and dynamic to the soloist there were episodes not just of technical brilliance but of sheer beauty of performance and fidelity to the classical idiom.
Departing from the relative austerity of both Norwegian/Scot Grieg and Austrian Haydn (not to mention Azerbaijani Jamal), Tchaikowsky's 'Souvenir de Florence' brought the audience into the Romantic era. Perhaps this concert could have been sub-titled 'East Meets West'! The complexity of the work in terms of composition and the demands on the dynamic required stretched this small string orchestra to the utmost. The result was overwhelmingly exciting and amazing in the strength and subtlety of expression. Once again the leads in violin, viola and cello sections played with heartfelt passion in their solos with balance directed from the leader's chair.
The next Trust concert ‘The Corelli Phenomenon’ by Collegium Musicum 90 is on Sunday 11 November.