Sunday, 15 July 2012

Festival envoi

As might have been gathered from earlier posts, we have enjoyed this year's Cheltenham Music Festival. Tonight's "London marathon", the Bournemouth S.O. conducted by Martyn Brabbins, was no exception. Cellist Stephen Isserlis's father died three weeks ago, and the last music Stephen played him was part of the Elgar Concerto: no surprise, therefore - his spellbinding performance of this same concerto, the pivot of this final concert. An extraordinary stillness overcame the Town Hall.

Last night's playing of Grieg's Holberg Suite by the Trondheim Soloists stole that show even with Sarah Connolly performing after the interval - today's Janet Baker, my neighbour suggested. I wonder.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we went to three of the five "Time Capsule: 1914-18" concerts, devised by the fragrant Kathy Gowers. I had misgivings about these at the outset, as so many of the works seemed to come into the deservedly little-known category. But they proved ideal festival fare, the variety providing continuous contrasts, some looking back, some forward - mostly played with great pizzazz: I would single out particularly the Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland in his Rachmaninov, but also in the piano transcription of Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances. Thrilling!

Not even crying offstage babies and texting audience members in front could take away that floaty feeling you get when something special is in the air.

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